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Workplace Safety Index Provides Injury Management Insights

  • Published
  • 26 June 2020
  • Category
  • General

Liberty Mutual Insurance publishes an annual Workplace Safety Index on the top causes of disabling work-related injuries and their costs to employers, which exceed $1 billion per week.

Year after year, the index is an indicator of injuries that could have been prevented or managed early to reduce cost burdens and the likelihood of disability and poor quality of life.

The newly released 2020 index is based on 2017 data from three sources: Liberty Mutual, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance. The index ranks events by total workers’ compensation costs, including medical and lost-wage payments. Related reports examine data in eight industries: construction, health care and social services, hospitality and leisure, manufacturing, professional services, retail, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale.

The index highlights the top 10 causes of the most serious injuries – those that cause employees to miss more than five days of work. Disabling workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $59 billion per year. The top 10 causes of injuries are associated with $52.93 billion in costs. Combined, the top five causes cost about $41 billion per year.

While the index focuses on employer costs, dollars spent also represent ways in which injuries impact workers’ physical, mental and socio-economic well-being.

Leading Causes

The leading causes of injuries offer useful insights for workplace accident and injury prevention measures. It’s notable that they are the same as 2019 and only slightly different from 2018. Here are the top five on the 2020 index:

  1. Overexertion involving outside sources (handling objects): This includes lifting, pushing, pulling, holding or carrying objects. Overexertion accounted for about 23.5 percent of all workplace injuries at an estimated annual cost of $13.98 billion.
  2. Falls on the same level: A serious injury can occur even by tripping on a cord or box or slipping on an uneven or slick surface. These falls account for 18.2 percent of disabling injuries and cost $10.84 billion a year.
  3. Being struck by an object or equipment: These incidents account for 10.3 percent of all injuries at a cost of $6.12 billion.
  4. Falls to a lower level: Falls on stairs and from heights account for 9.6 percent of total injuries and cost U.S. businesses an estimated $5.71 billion a year.
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions: This includes activities like bending, reaching, crawling, kneeling, sitting, walking and running. Other exertions comprise 7.9 percent of the total injury burden at a cost of $4.69 billion per year.

Roadway incidents (vehicle crashes), slips and trips without falling, repetitive motion involving microtasks, colliding with objects or equipment, and being caught or compressed in an object or equipment complete the top-10 list.

Recommended Interventions

At WorkCare, we help employers investigate causes of injuries so they can take steps to prevent them. For example, our Bio-Ergonomic Surveillance Program uses wearable sensor technology to detect “hot spots” for injury risk while employees do their jobs. Findings from these assessments can be used to modify specific tasks to reduce injury risk for individuals or across an entire enterprise.

Our Industrial Athlete Program features certified athletic trainers trained as injury prevention specialists who are available onsite and virtually to coach employees on pre-work stretching, conditioning and exercises based on their condition.

In addition, our Incident Intervention Program provides 24/7 telehealth triage to connect a worker at the onset of a non-emergency, work-related injury with occupational physicians and nurses who provide care guidance. Many injuries can be safely handled at the first-aid level. Immediate reporting and prompt intervention are been repeatedly shown to improve both health and business outcomes. We also help employers manage required medical surveillance exams and provide onsite clinical personnel to manage the health of employees year-round.

Combined, these efforts help move the needle in the right direction.

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