6th February, 2015

Overexertion and falls listed as top workplace hazards

A recent study from the United States has identified the top 10 causes of workplace injuries – and how much they are costing in workers compensation claims.

The findings come from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, which released the 15th edition of its annual Workplace Safety Index. The analysis shows that in 2012 (the most recent year for which data was available), the top workplace injury in the country was overexertion. This form of injury was accountable for US$15.1 billion, and a quarter (25.3 per cent), of workers compensation claims costs that year.

Falls continued to be a major source of injury, with falls on the same level and those to a lower level claiming second and fourth place respectively. The former injury was responsible for $9.19 billion worth of claims, with the latter responsible for $5.12 billion.

Being hit by an object or equipment took third spot, after it led to $5.3 billion in (and 8.9 per cent) of claims.

The other injuries that round out the top 10 are, in order:

  • Other exertions or bodily reactions
  • Roadway incidents involving a motorised land vehicle
  • Slip or trip without fall
  • Being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects
  • Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks
  • Being struck against an object or equipment

While these and other workplace injuries remain prevalent, a positive is the reduction in fatalities, according to a January 16 Insurance Journal article. According to the piece, which cited figures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, worker deaths in the US dropped from 38 a day in 1970 to 12 a day in 2012.

Musculoskeletal mishaps a common concern

According to the latest data from Safe Work Australia, nine out of 10 serious workers compensation claims in Australia during 2012-2013 were due to injuries and musculoskeletal disorders.

Traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries were the most common of these, claiming a share of 45 per cent. In addition, a third of serious claims were prompted by muscular stress due to lifting or handling heavy objects.

Often the most minor of injuries are the most common ones, leading employees to take out workers compensation claims. While major falls and other serious accidents may grab the headlines, overextensions, sprains and strains lead to among the highest rates of claims, as these studies show.

By ensuring your staff are protected by a comprehensive workers compensation package, you can limit the financial impact of such injuries to your business.

Author: Murray Bruce