Cost of Most Serious Workplace Injuries Falls: Liberty Mutual

January 20, 2017

Workplace injuries and accidents that cause employees to miss six or more days of work cost U.S. employers $59.9 billion in 2014, the most recent year for which statistically valid injury data are available, according to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Insurance Workplace Safety Index.

That’s a lot of money but it’s better than 2013, when the costs of the most serious accidents and injuries tallied nearly $62 billion, according to the 2016 Liberty Mutual index.

According to the latest report, the 10 leading causes of the most disabling work-related injuries account for $49.9 billion, or 83.4 percent, of the total cost of $59.9 billion.

The top three causes – which collectively represent almost half of the cost of the leading accidents – are overexertion ($13.8 billion, 23 percent), falls on same level ($10.6 billion, 17.7 percent) and falls to lower level ($5.5 billion, 9.2 percent).

In the report from a year earlier, the 10 leading causes of the most disabling work-related injuries accounted for more than $51 billion, or 82.5 percent, of the total cost of $62 billion.

This is the seventeenth year that the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has produced the index. The researchers use the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance along with Liberty Mutual’s own data.

“Each year, we rank the top 10 causes of the most serious, nonfatal workplace injuries by their direct costs to help companies better protect employees and the bottom-line,” said Debbie Michel, who leads Liberty Mutual’s workers compensation division for mid-sized and large companies. “Workplace injuries impact both employees and employers. Injured employees face potential physical, emotional and financial harm. Employers face the direct costs of workplace injuries – medical care related to the accident and some portion of an injured employee’s pay – and the indirect costs, including hiring temporary employees, lost productivity, and quality disruptions.”

The ranking of the top causes of the most serious workplace accidents remained the same in the 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index as in the 2016 report. After the top three, they are: struck by object or equipment (7.4%), other exertions or bodily reactions (6.5%), roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle (6.2%), skip or trip without fall (3.8%), caught in/compressed by equipment or objects (3.3%), struck against object or equipment (3.2%) and repetitive motions involving micro-tasks (3.0%).

Source: 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index

While the top 10 causes has remained the same, the 2017 index shows that the share of the top 10 causes of serious workplace accidents in the cost of all disabling workplace accidents grew in 2017 to 83.4 percent, from 82.5 percent in 2016

Also falls on same level and roadway incidents continued to trend upward, and overexertion decreased substantially.

“The goal of the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index is to inform the national agenda on workplace safety by highlighting the direct costs of the most serious workplace accidents,” notes Dr. Ian Noy, Director, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety.

The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety conducts academic, peer-reviewed research in the field of safety and health. The Institute aims to determine the causes of accidents and injuries, identify appropriate interventions to help reduce the incidents of injuries and minimize disability.

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