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The causes and costs of injuries in the workplace

As workplace safety evolves, industries evolve and the economy evolves, so do the costs and causes of workplace injury. Not so long ago, millions of American workers were regularly exposed to toxic substances and dangerous equipment in the workplace. Now, the law seeks to protect workers from such hazards. However, the efforts that have been made to ensure worker safety have not yet achieved the ultimate goal of eliminating preventable workplace accidents. As a result, workers across the nation continue to sustain serious injury at work each and every day.

For 15 years, the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has compiled a workplace safety index which ranks the top causes and costs of serious injuries which occur in the workplace but do not result in death. It is vitally important that employers and regulators pay attention to this list in addition to the annual rankings of fatal injuries.

The most recent data that has been completely compiled is tied to serious injuries sustained in 2012. The direct costs linked to each cause of injury are workers’ compensation costs only. At the top of the 2012 list is overexertion, which cost $15.1 billion in 2012 alone. The next most pressing causes of serious injury are same-level falls, being struck by equipment or other objects and falls to lower levels. Among the remaining causes are motorized vehicle accidents, becoming caught in or compressed by equipment or other objects, and micro-task repetitive motions.

Each of these causes of serious injury results in billions of dollars in workers’ compensation costs and needs to be addressed by employers and regulators with urgency.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Top 10 Causes of Workplace Injuries,” Jan. 16, 2015

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