According to the 2020 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to more than $59 billion in direct U.S. workers compensation costs, with the top 10 causes equaling nearly $53 billion of the total cost burden. This translates into more than $1 billion per week spent by businesses on these injuries.

The top five injury causes, which include handling objects, falls on the same level, being hit by objects, falls to a lower level and awkward postures, accounted for 69.5 percent of the total injury cost burden. The remaining five injury causes combined accounted for 19.5 percent of the total direct cost.

Here is a Breakdown of the Top 10 Causes and Costs of Workplace Injuries:

1. Handling Objects – $13.98 billion.

This category includes injuries related to overexertion involving outside sources including lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing objects that accounted for nearly a quarter of the national burden. An important step to prevent these types of injuries is to use the science of adjusting the work environment to fit the employee’s need. Ergonomics provides injury prevention solutions that are simple and relatively inexpensive. Some of these solutions include, requiring frequent short breaks for workers assigned repetitive motion tasks, providing mechanical lifting equipment, adjusting the workspace or tools to the worker, and varying worker’s tasks.

2. Falls on Same Level – $10.84 billion.

Falls from the same level would be defined as a fall to the same walking or working surface or a fall into or against objects above the same surface. These injuries accounted for 18.2 percent of the total injury burden. The most common injuries include fractures and broken bones in the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand. Some steps you can take to prevent these injuries include providing the proper fall protection equipment, establishing safe walking practices, ensuring proper handrails and railings, slip resistant coatings on walkways and training employees to recognize fall hazards.

3. Being Hit by Objects – $6.12 billion.

Being struck by objects or equipment is where the impact from an object creates an injury. Struck by could include flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, or rolling objects and could result in fatal and non-fatal injuries to the head, torso, or internal injuries. Construction has a high rate of these incidents compared to other industries. By using safe practices including flaggers, parabolic mirrors and wearing PPE including high-viz clothing or vests and/or type 3 reflective clothing, many of these incidents can be prevented.

4. Falls to Lower Level – $5.71 billion.

Falls to lower level involve a fall to a level below walking or working surface. These falls result in more serious injuries or death and accounted for 9.6 percent of the total injury burden. To protect employees, you should provide guard rails and toe-boards as well as harnesses, safety nets, stair railings and handrails where applicable.

5. Awkward Postures – $4.69 billion.

Awkward postures can involve a variety of positions from twisting, bending, reaching, pulling, or lifting. If you are working with your hands above your head, have limited ability to vary your posture, work with your elbows above your shoulders or do not have the proper support while bending your neck or back more than 30 degrees, these unnatural movements can increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Conducting ergonomic assessments can alter the workspace, job design or practices to help achieve a better ergonomic design and avoid workplace injuries resulting from awkward posture.

6. Vehicle Crashes – $3.56 billion.

Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles (vehicle crashes) involve accidents that occur either on the roadway or non-roadway such as tractor overturn in a farm field. Roadway incidents accounted for 6.0 percent of the total cost burden and can be extremely dangerous and fatal. Many of these incidents occur in work zones and can lead to the death of workers, drivers, or pedestrians. It is important to implement policies and procedures that support safe driving behaviors, reduce distracted driving, and prevent impaired driving among employees.

7. Slip or Trip Without Fall – $2.06 billion.

Slips and trips without fall accounted for 3.5 percent of the total cost burden. Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and walking surface and trips happen when your foot collides with an object or uneven surface. Both slips and trips result from unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground or surface. Practicing good housekeeping, ensuring floors aren’t slippery and providing the proper footwear and adequate lighting are all steps you can take to protect employees.

8. Repetitive Motions Involving Micro-Tasks – $2.05 billion.

These types of injuries accounted for 3.4 percent of the total cost burden and are commonly referred to as repetitive stress injuries. They are the result of performing tasks over and over and are the fastest growing category of workplace injuries. Repetitive work with little to no breaks and constant typing and clicking can strain muscles and tendons resulting in nagging injuries that can lead to crippling pain. It is important to ensure workers are aware of the dangers these injuries present and to take proper breaks including stopping work when pain or discomfort arises. Workplace injuries are painful for employees and put a significant financial strain on your business. Many organizations have taken measures to lower their incident rates including, forming safety committees, investing in the proper protective equipment, performing ongoing safety training, and conducting safety assessments. Invest in technology that can give you the intelligence to take a proactive approach to preventing injuries in your workplace instead of reactive one.

9. Colliding with Objects – $2.00 billion.

Struck against refers to incidents where a worker hits an object or equipment. Examples include, running into an overhead pipe, corner, vehicle, or other person. Some of the injuries that can result are small sprains, broken bones or fractures, head and brain injuries, elbow or shoulder injuries and lower leg injuries. To prevent these injuries, you should ensure employees are properly aware of hazards and clearly mark with proper signage any potential dangers. Another key is to ensure equipment is well maintained by performing regular maintenance and inspections.

10. Running Equipment or Machines – $1.92 billion.

These types of accidents accounted for 3.2 percent of the total cost burden and often result from accidents with heavy machinery. These accidents occur when a worker’s body part is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed, or pinched between two or more objects. Some ways to prevent these incidents include shutting down equipment before doing repairs or inspections, chocking the wheels on equipment that could move or roll and making sure guards are in place and secured after servicing equipment.

Overall, workplace injuries can cause a significant financial burden on companies. Not only from the cost of medical bills and workers compensation and insurance premiums, but from lost work production, decrease morale and performance of employees and corrective measure implementation to ensure repeat incidents do not occur. By taking a proactive approach to safety rather than a reactive, the overall cost burden and risk level can be greatly reduced. Taking steps to prevent injuries can save employers money in the long run.

Have a Safe Day!