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The five leading causes of workplace injuries accounted for about 65% of workers’ compensation costs in 2012, according to new research by Liberty Mutual Group Inc.

The results, published in the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s “2014 Workplace Safety Index,” found that overexertion – or injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing – was the top cause of workplace injury in 2012. Overexertion injury claims cost U.S. employers $15.1 billion that year, or 25% of all workplace injury costs, according to the study.

This index is a good tool for employers as it helps businesses understand the nature of the majority of workplace injuries. With this information in hand, you can put in place safeguards in your workplace to reduce the likelihood of injuries.

 

10 Leading Causes and Direct Costs of Workplace Injuries in 2012

1. Overexertion: Total cost nationwide: $15.1 billion (25.3% of all workplace injury costs).

2. Falls on same level: Total cost nationwide: $9.2 billion (15.4% of the total).

3. Struck by object or equipment: Total cost nationwide: $5.3 billion (9%).

4. Falls to lower level: Total cost nationwide: $5 billion (8.6%).

5. Other exertions or bodily reactions: Total cost nationwide: $4.3 billion (7.2%).

6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle: Total cost nationwide: $3.2 billion (5.3%).

7. Slip or trip without fall: Total cost nationwide: $2.2 billion (3.6%).

8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects: Total cost nationwide: $2.1 billion (3.5%).

9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks: Total cost nationwide: $1.8 billion (3%).

10. Struck against object or equipment: Total cost nationwide: $1.76 billion (2.9%).

We can work with you to help you mitigate these and other risks of injury in workplaces of all sizes.

The following are ways to reduce the likelihood of the top three injury types on this list.

 

Overexertion

To reduce overexertion injuries, you need to understand the risks associated with manual handling tasks, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying.

When your workers will handle materials, we recommend:

•           Having a handling plan that avoids slippery hazards and includes a destination.

•           Testing the load to ensure that it can be safely carried.

•           Knowing the limits! If the load is too heavy, awkward or bulky to carry alone, the worker should get help.

•           Using machinery or equipment, such as pushcarts, hand truck, wheelbarrow, forklift or hoist.

•           When possible, using levers, incline planes or rollers to move loads.

 

Guidelines for safe lifting:

•           Get a good grip. Grasp the load firmly. Use gloves if they allow for a better grip.

•           Get a good footing. Center body weight to provide a powerful line of thrust and good balance.

•           Keep it close. Grasp the load firmly and lift towards the belt buckle. Hold the load close to the body to avoid putting pressure on the back.

•           Lift smoothly. Raise, carry and lower the load smoothly. Never jerk a load.

•           Avoid twisting. If turning is required while lifting or carrying a load, turn the feet and body instead of twisting the back.

•           Push. Push rather than pull the load.

 

Falls

To avoid the likelihood of slips, trips and falls, the second-most costly injury type:

1)         Maintain a workplace free of clutter and assign staff to make sure the work area is tidy.

2)         Reduce wet or slippery surfaces.

3)         Avoid creating obstacles in aisles and walkways.

4)         Ensure that you have proper lighting in all areas.

5)         Make sure workers have the proper shoes.

 

Struck by objects

A few of the simpler ways to reduce struck-by injuries are:

•           Wear hardhats to avoid being injured by falling objects.

•           Stack materials properly to prevent sliding, falling or collapse.

•           Always wear proper PPE. This includes safety glasses, goggles and face shields, to name a few.

•           Don’t work under cranes, hoists or heavy machinery while it’s being operated.

•           To avoid struck-by incidents with vehicles, workers should wear seat belts, check vehicles thoroughly and wear highly visible clothing.

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