Top 5 Workers Compensation Claims and Their Causes

May 18, 2016

Strains and sprains are the most common worker injury while worker injuries are most frequently the result of materials handling incidents, according to a review of more than 1.5 million workers compensation claims by The Travelers Companies.

The country’s largest workers compensation carrier released its Injury Impact Report, which reviewed claims filed between 2010 and 2014 from businesses of various sizes and industries.

The top five injuries as a percentage of total claims are:

  • strains and sprains (30 percent)
  • cuts or punctures (19 percent)
  • contusions (12 percent)
  • inflammation (5 percent)
  • fractures (5 percent)

By business size and industry, strains and sprains topped all lists for the most common type of injury except for small businesses, which experienced cuts or punctures most frequently, followed by strains and sprains. Eye injuries were among the most common injuries in both construction and manufacturing.

The injuries with the highest average incurred costs included amputations, dislocations, electric shock, crushing and multiple trauma injuries, such as breaking multiple bones at once. These severe injuries have typically occurred less frequently overall.

The most frequent causes of workplace injuries include:

  • Material handling (32 percent of total claims)
  • Slips, trips and falls (16 percent)
  • Being struck by or colliding with an object (10 percent)
  • Accidents involving tools (7 percent)
  • Traumas occurring over time, for example when a part of the body is injured by overuse or strain (4 percent).

The above incidents most often resulted in strains, sprains, cuts, punctures, contusions, inflammation, fractures or chronic sicknesses resulting from a type of work (e.g., a skin disease caused by chemical exposure). On average, strains and sprains resulted in 57 missed work days, followed by cuts and punctures at 24 days. Of the most commonly-resulting injuries, inflammation and fractures caused the most time away from work at 91 and 78 days, respectively.

“Even seemingly minor injuries, such as strains or sprains, can substantially impact an employee and slow a business’s operations and productivity,” said Woody Dwyer, second vice president, Workers Compensation, Risk Control, Travelers. “The most common injuries we see can often be prevented if the proper safety measures are in place, if safety issues are promptly addressed and if leaders continuously emphasize a culture of safety with employees.”

Analysis of the workers compensation claim data revealed that certain causes of accidents and resulting injuries were more prevalent in some industries than others:

  • While material handling accidents were the top cause of injuries overall, these were especially common in the manufacturing and retail industries, causing nearly 40 percent of injuries in both sectors.
  • Falling from height was among the top causes of injuries in both the construction and retail industries.
  • The oil and gas industry was the only segment in which motor vehicle accidents were one of the most frequent causes of injury.
  • Eye injuries were one of the most frequent types of injuries in manufacturing and construction.

Additional information can be found in the full Travelers Injury Impact Report.

Topics Claims Workers' Compensation Talent

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