Nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private employers in 2014 according to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And according to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, workplace accidents and injuries that kept employees off work for six days or longer cost U.S. employers nearly $62 billion in 2013.
Getting a handle on workplace accidents and injuries and the associated costs begins with knowing which types of injuries are driving up those costs. According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, 82.5 percent of the $62 billion spent on workplace accidents and injuries in 2013 was spent on 10 categories of the most serious, nonfatal work-related injuries.
In reverse order, here are the top 10 categories of costliest workers compensation insurance claims:
- Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks. Think of an assembly line worker performing the same tedious task all day long or a grocery clerk scanning groceries for hours at a time. At 2.9 percent of the total, this category accounts for $1.82 billion in costs.
- Struck against object or equipment. At 3 percent of the total and $1.85 billion in costs, this category includes such things as an auto repair shop employee working under a car and bumping his head, or an employee stubbing a toe or running into an object.
- Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects. Imagine a shop employee removing a machine guard to dislodge something stuck in it and getting a finger stuck when the machine is accidentally turned back on. Injuries resulting from workers being caught in running equipment or machinery or in rolling, shifting, or sliding objects cost $1.97 billion.
- Slip or trip without fall. Most of us have done it – we slip on ice or a wet slippery surface, nearly take a fall, but catch ourselves at the last minute, straining a shoulder, knee, or ankle in the process. These injuries account for 3.8 percent of the total and $2.35 billion in costs.
- Roadway accidents involving motorized land vehicle. Accounting for 4.8 percent of the total and carrying a price tag of almost $3 billion, this category includes motor vehicle accidents involving an automobile, truck, or motorcycle where the employee was the driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian.
- Other exertions or bodily reactions. There are many professions that involve bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, and stepping, and injuries from these actions cost over $4 billion.
- Struck by object or equipment. When a construction worker on a scaffold drops a hammer on a fellow worker below, the injury falls into this category. These injuries account for $5.31 billion in costs.
- Falls to lower level. At a cost of $5.4 billion, these injuries could include a roofer falling to the ground from a ladder or a warehouse working standing on a stepstool reaching for a heavy box.
- Falls on same level. Most of us have done this too – tripping over an uneven floor surface and falling, or tipping over in a chair and falling on the floor. These injuries rack up over $10 billion.
- Overexertion involving an outside source. Coming in first place, this category accounts for almost a quarter of the total and over $15 billion in costs. These injuries involve overexertion from lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, carrying, wielding, or throwing an object, resulting in an injury.
These findings can help you target your safety and risk management efforts, make your workplace safer, and lower your workers compensation costs. For robust cost control via our Total Program Management third party administration services, talk to the experts at Republic Capital.