Nobody wants to be injured at work. There are the pain and disruption, obviously, but there’s also the stress. A job-related injury can mean time lost from work, which can mean going without a paycheck right when you need one most. There are workers’ compensation benefits available in most cases, but it’s important to try to head off any injuries before they happen.
One way to minimize the risk of a workplace injury is to understand some common causes of injury. Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index is an annual list of the nation’s most disabling types of injuries, based on information from the insurer, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance. The company based its 2019 index on 2016 injury data involving non-fatal injuries that resulted in more than five days away from work. It averaged the cost of the injuries over three years.
Let’s take a look at the results. The causes of the top 10 most disabling injuries overall, based on cost, included:
- Overexertion involving outside sources
- Falls to the same level
- Being struck by an object or equipment
- Falls to a lower level
- Other exertions or bodily reactions
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slipping or tripping without falling
- Becoming caught in or being compressed by equipment or objects
- Repetitive motion involving microtasks
- Being struck against an object or equipment
The 2019 Workplace Safety Index also considered the question across eight industries where a large proportion of all workplace injuries take place. Here is a list of those eight industries with the top cause of disabling injuries for each:
- Construction: Falls to a lower level
- Professional services: Falls to the same level
- Manufacturing: Overexertion involving outside sources
- Healthcare: Overexertion involving outside sources
- Retail: Overexertion involving outside sources
- Transportation & warehousing: Overexertion involving outside sources
- Wholesale: Overexertion involving outside sources
- Leisure & hospitality: Falls to the same level
As you can see, overexertion and falls are both major causes of workplace injuries across industries. Even where overexertion was not the top cause of injuries in a particular industry, it was in the top five, and the same goes for falls, either from another level or at the same level.
Let’s drill down a little further and look at the top 5 causes of injury in some of these industries:
In construction, the top 5 causes of disabling injury were falls to a lower level, being struck by an object, overexertion, falls to the same level and slipping or tripping without falling.
In manufacturing, the top 5 causes were overexertion, falls to the same level, being struck by objects, being caught in equipment and repetitive motion.
In healthcare, the top 5 causes were overexertion, falls to the same level, violence, motor vehicle accidents and other types of exertion/bodily reactions.
From these causes of injury, you can get a sense of the key dangers in each industry. With that knowledge, you can adjust your own behavior even as your company develops a plan to reduce the potential for injury. A good plan includes things like system controls, work design, appropriate technology and personal protective equipment, training, strategic risk management and development of a safety-centered culture.
We hope you never get seriously injured at work. If you do, you should be aware that workers’ compensation is available in most cases. You don’t have to prove that your employer or coworkers were negligent or did anything wrong. The workers’ comp system is set up to cover job-related injuries regardless of the company’s fault. Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for help.