Most frequent cause of injuries on the job: Material Handling – 32% of injuries are caused by workers lifting, lowering, filling, emptying or carrying objects.
Most expensive injuries: Amputations – Indemnity claims alone average $102,500 per incident.
Those are just a couple of the facts to emerge from a comprehensive study that Travelers Indemnity Co. did on more than 1.5 million injury workers comp claims over a four year period. All in all, it is one of the most complete pictures of the causes and costs of injuries in the American workplace.
While material handling shows up as the top cause of injury for every industry and businesses of every size, there are some important distinctions for some segments. For example, workers in small businesses suffer injuries from hand tools at about twice the rate of other sized businesses. Part of that may be improper training, but it could possibly be that small contractors on construction jobs are more likely to use hand tools. Oil and gas was the only sector to have motor vehicle accidents in its top five causes. Those unique aspects should guide companies in their safety programs.
Strains and sprains were the most common type of injury, followed by cuts or punctures, contusions inflammation and fractures. Possibly the most interesting part of the study is what injuries cost and how long they keep workers away from the job. Travelers found that strains and sprains caused workers to miss an average of 57 days away from work, but that inflammations, which only made up five percent of the injuries, averaged more than 90 days away from work.
Finally, and most significantly, the study tackles the average costs for injury claims. The most common injuries are not the most expensive ones. Again, amputations are by far the most expensive claims coming in at $107,000. That is just for the claim. Any fines or other expenses would just add to that total. Strains and sprains cost an average of $17,000.
What does all of this mean to a company? Businesses should already be doing all they can to prevent injuries and help injured workers recover. The study gives clear evidence that protecting workers is a sound financial decision in addition to being the right thing to do. Now companies can look at hard costs of injuries and make rational decisions about where to spend their money. For instance, following the NFPA 70E guidelines for training workers on electrical hazards can cost a few hundred dollars. One electric shock injury costs an average of $55,200 in claims alone. It is a pretty easy business decision to make.
If you need help either protecting your workers from injuries or in mitigating the damage through early intervention once an incident happens, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.