The nugget of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is applicable to a wide range of situations. When it comes to the workplace, there’s little doubt that investing more effort upfront would be a worthwhile and less expensive option for employers. The Liberty Mutual Research Institute recently concluded that serious, nonfatal workplace injuries annually amount to $59.87 billion in workers’ compensation costs – or more than $1 billion each week!
Using information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance, the Institute produces a yearly safety index that identifies critical risk areas to help businesses better distribute safety resources. Based on 2014 injury data, the top ten causes for 2017 accounted for 83.4 percent of the total cost burden and amounted to $49.92 billion.
According to the index, the leading cause of disabling injury was overexertion involving outside sources. Examples include injuries relating to pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, lifting, or throwing objects. These injuries were responsible for 23 percent of the overall national burden, at a cost of $13.79 billion.
With direct costs of $10.62 billion and accounting for almost 18 percent, falls on the same level ranked second. Falls to a lower level ranked third at just over 9 percent and a cost of $5.5 billion. Coming in fourth at 7.4 percent and $4.43 billion was injuries due to being struck by an object or equipment. Rounding out the top five at 6.5 percent and a cost of $3.89 billion was other exertions or bodily reactions. Just these top five disabling work-related injuries comprised a whopping 63.8 percent of the total burden. The last five were roadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle ($3.7 billion), a slip or trip without a fall ($2.3 billion), being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects ($1.95 billion), being struck against objects or equipment ($1.94 billion), and repetitive motions involving micro-tasks ($1.81 billion).
Awareness of what kinds of injuries happen most often is an important first step. Identifying safety risks and developing a plan of action are also essential. For example, proper lock-out/tag-out procedures and periodic training on how to use certain equipment can reduce injuries that result from being caught in or between machinery. Wearing personal protection gear can help reduce falls from heights and the severity of injuries suffered when struck by a falling object. Keeping areas clear of clutter can reduce trips and falls. Overexertion can be addressed by making sure workers are properly trained in how to handle objects (stretching, lifting with legs instead of back, asking a partner for help, using dollies/forklifts/etc.).
Going to work should not be a dangerous experience. If you are trying to put your life back together after a work-related injury, if you have lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm.