Safety and OSHA News

Top 5 causes of workplace injuries

Five years and more than 1.5 million workers’ comp claims. That’s what The Travelers Companies looked at to determine the who, what, where, when, why and how of workplace injuries … also how much they cost. 

According to the Travelers Injury Impact Report, the most frequent causes of workplace injuries for the period from 2010 to 2014 were:

  • material handling: 32% of claims
  • slips, trips and falls: 16%
  • being struck by or colliding with an object: 10%
  • incidents involving tools: 7%, and
  • traumas occurring over time such as when a body part is injured by overuse or strain: 4%.

All other causes make up 31% of workplace injuries.

Material handling includes lifting, lowering, filling, emptying or carrying an item. The most frequent types of injuries caused by material handling are strains and sprains, contusions, fractures, cuts or punctures, and inflammation.

Injury causes varied by company size. Slips, trips and falls, and incidents involving tools were more significant causes at small businesses.

Material handling was a bigger factor at manufacturing and retail facilities. Slip, trip and fall injuries were also more prevalent at retail. Falls were more likely to cause injuries in construction.

The top five types of injuries as a percentage of total claims were:

  • strains and sprains: 30%
  • cuts or punctures: 19%
  • contusions: 12%
  • inflammation (ex.: tendonitis): 5%, and
  • fractures: 5%.

Even though it’s a less common injury, inflammation has a significant impact: It has the longest number of days away from work, on average, at 91. Fractures is second with 79 days. Strains and sprains are third at 57.

The most costly injuries aren’t the most common ones:

  • amputation: $102,500 per injury
  • dislocation: $97,100
  • electric shock: $55,200
  • crushing: $54,600, and
  • multiple trauma (such as multiple broken bones): $50,000.

The most common types of injuries have lower per-incident costs:

  • fractures: $42,400
  • inflammation: $24,500
  • strains and sprains: $17,000
  • cuts or punctures: $8,200, and
  • contusions: $8,000.

The oil and gas industry spent the most on multiple trauma injuries. Construction was the only industry that spent large amounts of claims dollars on cardiovascular and electric shock injuries.

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