A new report released by the Travelers Companies Inc., reveals that even minor injuries can substantially impact business productivity.
The Injury Impact Report identifies the most common causes of workplace accidents and injuries through analysis of 1.5 million workers’ compensation claims filed between 2010 and 2014 from a variety of business sizes and industries.
The report provides an opportunity to engage in an industry specific risk mitigation dialogue with employers, said Woody Dwyer, second vice president, Workers’ Compensation, Risk Control for Travelers.
Dwyer’s team oversees ergonomics, post injury cost containment issues and industrial hygiene for the insurer.
The most frequent causes of workplace injuries included:
- 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); and
- Traumas occurring over time, for example when a part of the body is injured by overuse or strain (4 percent).
According to the insurer, material handling includes the act of lifting, lowering, filling, emptying and carrying and most frequently caused strains and sprains, cuts or punctures, contusions, inflammation and/or fractures.
According to the analysis, 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).
The 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.
The insurer reported that 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.
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.
An important aspect in terms of mitigating workplace injuries, said Dwyer, is the difference between orientation and training. It’s especially true given that Travelers’ data revealed that 28 percent of workplace injuries occur in the first year of employment.
New employee orientation may include videos that offer job safety tips whereas training involves making sure the employee understands the proper procedures associated with a job.
“It’s going a step past just general awareness,” Dwyer explained. “Even seemingly minor injuries, such as strains or sprains, can substantially impact an employee and slow a business’s operations and productivity,” said Dwyer, “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.”
A strong risk mitigation program combined with good onboarding and training can prevent injuries, he said.
The full report is available at: https://www.travelers.com/iw-documents/resources/workplace-safety/workplace-injuries-report.pdf
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