One of the biggest insurers in the nation, Liberty Mutual, recently published a safety survey establishing that the top 10 most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses from 2009 accounted for $50.1 billion in direct U.S. compensation costs. Moreover, the top 10 most disabling injuries and illnesses comprised 89.3% of the entire cost of all disabling work-related injuries in the United States. More significantly, the top five workplace injuries accounted for 71.1% of total costs, while the next five accounted for less than 5% each.
A review of the top five causes of the most disabling workplace injuries is important:
1. Overexertion (excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding carrying, throwing): $12.75 billion;
2. Fall on the same level: $7.94 billion;
3. Fall to lower level: $5.35 billion;
4. Bodily reaction (bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling): $5.28 billion;
5. Struck by object (such as a tool falling on a worker from above): $4.64 billion
What is striking is that of the five most disabling injuries, three are very preventable: a fall from the same level or lower lever, and an employee being struck by an object.
What is further interesting to note is that while this Index looks at the cost of providing help to those who have been hurt, where is the focus that should be on preventing these harms to workers? Couldn’t proper training, regular audits of workplace, safety initiatives and setting and publicizing attainable goals, reduce these type of injuries for employers, and cut the incidents and thus the costs associating with injury?
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has programs to assist employers in accident prevention. The results of this study, however, begs the question as to how many employers take advantage of these programs.
Unfortunately, there is not a day that goes by where a worker is not injured or maimed by a preventable accident. Yet, it is abundantly clear that employers continue to fail to take the necessary steps to implement safety strategies to prevent these regrettable occurrences. As Bill Takacs pointed in his recent blog, now is the not the time to bend to big business pressure for less governmental regulation. Rather, more regulation is necessary to prevent these disasters from striking.