Top 10 causes of workplace injuries and their costs
Workplace injuries can be extremely costly for small businesses and their employees. Serious, non-fatal workplace injuries now account for nearly $60 billion in U.S. workers’ compensation costs, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.
Liberty Mutual found that overexertion is the leading cause of workplace injuries, followed by injuries related to falling. Knowing the most common workplace injuries and how to prevent them can have a significant impact on the safety of your employees and the longevity of your business. These are the top 10 causes of accidents and the average cost of the most common injuries:
Overexertion can happen with lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing objects. These injuries cost businesses $13.7 billion in 2018, or 23.5 percent of the overall national burden, according to the Workplace Safety Index.
To prevent injuries related to overexertion, be sure to provide your employees with ergonomic equipment and properly train them about safety involving physical tasks.
2. Falls on the same level
Same-level falls can occur anywhere and happen to anyone at a workplace, which is why they’re so common. Loose wires, wet floors, or even a file cabinet drawer left open can cause people to trip or slip. These accidents accounted for $11.2 billion in workers’ compensation costs in the United States in 2018, or 19.2 percent of the total.
3. Falls to a lower level
Falling from a height, such as a ladder or a roof, to a lower surface can cause major injuries and even death. While not as common as same-level falls, they make up 10 percent of the total injury burden, resulting in $5.9 billion in overall costs.
Protect your employees from these accidents by providing them with the right kind of equipment and fall protection gear.
4. Struck by object or equipment
Being struck by a falling object or a piece of equipment is one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other industries aren’t immune from such accidents. Workers who are hit with flying pieces of equipment or machinery accounted for $5.3 billion in workers’ compensation costs in 2018, or a little over 9 percent of the total.
5. Other exertions or bodily reactions
Bodily reactions and exertions rank fifth on the Workplace Safety Index and are caused when a person is engaged in a strenuous effort or excessive physical motion. Repetitive actions are often the cause, so they can happen with just about any kind of job. These injuries cost businesses $4.2 billion in 2018, or 7.2 percent of the total injury burden.
6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles
Motorized land vehicles can include everything from trucks to motorcycles, and an incident can involve the driver, a passenger, or even a pedestrian. These injuries make up $3.2 billion of workers’ compensation costs in the United States, or 5.5 percent of the total.
7. Slip or trip without fall
Slip and trips happen when there’s a lack of traction between a person’s shoe and the walking surface. They can also occur when there’s an uneven surface or an unexpected change in flooring or steps. These accidents cost businesses $2.3 billion, or 3.9 percent of the total injury burden.
Proper housekeeping is key to avoiding employee injuries. Ensure floors are clean and that slippery surfaces are well-marked. Maintain well-lit and uncluttered areas, and make sure your employees are wearing proper shoes at all times.
8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects
This category makes up $2.1 billion, or 3.6 percent, of U.S. workers’ compensation costs. These accidents typically involve an employee having a body part crushed or caught by a workplace object or piece of equipment. Examples include workers caught by moving machinery or crushed between two heavy objects.
9. Struck against object or equipment
These accidents occur when a worker runs into an object or piece of equipment. For instance, an employee could bump into a low beam or collide with another person. This category accounts for $2 billion, or 3.5 percent, of the overall national burden.
Make sure your workplace has appropriate signage warning people of any risks, and perform regular inspections to ensure your work environment is safe.
10. Repetitive motions involving microtasks
Repetitive motion injuries are common in jobs where workers need to perform the same actions over and over throughout the day. People who type frequently or who do manufacturing jobs are at risk of developing these conditions. This category accounts for $1.5 billion, or 2.6 percent, of U.S. workers’ compensation costs.
To prevent repetitive injuries, make sure your employees have an appropriate ergonomic setup and that they’re adequately trained on how often to take breaks to avoid wear and tear.
Workers’ comp insurance protects employees and businesses
Because accidents can happen at any workplace, every business is susceptible to the common injuries listed above. Workers’ compensation insurance is essential to protect your employees and your business if an accident does happen.
Workers’ comp provides hurt employees with coverage for:
- Medical treatment (surgeries, medications, doctor visits, etc.)
- Wage replacement (about two-thirds of their wages while they are on temporary disability)
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits (funeral expenses and support payments to dependents)
Anytime an injury occurs on the job, follow OSHA’s recommendations for workplace safety.
Workers’ comp is required by law
Workers’ comp isn’t just a wise business move – it’s also your legal obligation as an employer. Most states require all employers to carry coverage, and failure to do so can result in serious fines and even jail time. Learn more about your state’s regulations in our comprehensive guide to workers' compensation state laws.
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