To say that workplace injuries are costly is an understatement. According to the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), workers compensation claims topped $60 billion in 2014, while overall employer costs were more than $80 billion. That’s a lot of money spent on visits to the ER, urgent care, and physical therapy—and it doesn’t account for the personal and emotional costs to injured workers and their families. Naturally, employers and employees want to know how to get these numbers down. Productive businesses rely on healthy, productive employees, and everybody wins when work-related injuries are avoided. By studying common work-related injuries that result in workers compensation cases, it may be possible to increase awareness in the workplace and minimize the possibility of injury. Here are 5 of the most common work-related injuries.
1. Pushing (or pulling) too hard
Known officially as “overexertion,” this category includes injuries that come about through excessive listening and carrying, pushing and pulling, and other such physical exertions. People who work in warehouses, shipping, construction and other such industries are more susceptible, but even picking up a box of printer paper at the office can result in overexertion if the lifter is ill-prepared or simply not strong enough. This type of injury currently accounts for about a quarter of the total worker’s comp cost in the United States.
2. Falling down on level ground
Unlike fall to a lower level, falls on the same level can occur in virtually any work environment. Wet floors, icy walkways, or small objects on workplace floors can all lead to costly falls. Over 15% of worker’s comp costs are attributed from this type of fall.
3. Falling down to a lower level
Jobs that involve daily exposure to multiple “levels” (such as roofing, or anything involving ladders) pose a much higher risk of falls to a lower level. Recovering from these injuries can be time-consuming and costly; they account for around 10% of the total worker’s compensation cost.
4. Repetitive Stress Injuries and other bodily reactions
This type of injury, which accounts for around 8% of total work-related injury costs, has a very broad definition. It can be anything from an RSI (such as carpel tunnel syndrome as a result of constant typing or writing) to an injury that develops from excessive sitting, standing or bending down. If the injury is a result of ongoing work-related duties, and doesn’t fit into the category of overexertion, it will likely fit into this category.
5. Being struck by something
Being struck by an object is a very real risk for many working Americans, and it happens all too often. This category accounts for a further 7 or 8% of the aforementioned cost. Other common categories include being caught inside or compressed by something, injuries from work-related driving, and assaults. While these types of injuries make up a smaller percentage of the overall cost, they definitely add up.
Avoiding these injuries
Many employers and employees find that learning about the most common types of work-related injury, determining which ones are more likely to occur in their workplace, and striving to educate themselves about prevention can bring positive results. If you or someone you know has been injured at work, seek care right away, and make sure you notify your employer of the injury, promptly and in writing, in order to make sure your claim is handled correctly.