Workplace injuries continue to place an undue burden on the American workplace. Each year, employers spend millions on preventing injuries. When these programs inevitably fail, employers spend millions more on rehabilitating their workforce. Then, to add insult to what was (literally) injury, the employer often faces increases in their workers’ compensation insurance premiums, audits by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and even increases in health insurance premiums after their employees were treated in the ER.
Let’s review some of the injury and accident statistics plaguing our nation today—and talk about how to cut OSHA recordable events and get employees back to work faster.
10 Workplace Injury Statistics
1. In 2019, there were 2.8 million on-the-job employee injuries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 2.8 workplace injuries per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in the U.S.. The good news is that rate has fallen by 75% since 1972, which was the first year the BLS published these statistics. In 1972, the workplace injury incident rate was 10.9 cases per 100 FTEs. However, we still have a long way to go, because our approach to treating these injuries is the same as it always was—to go to the ER.
2. Workplace fatalities increased by 2% from 2018 to 2019.
The BLS reports that fatal work injuries have been increasing since 2010. While the majority of workplace injuries are minor musculoskeletal strains and sprains, the fact that 5,333 people lost their lives at work in 2019 is highly concerning. The 10 most dangerous jobs include:
- Logging and timber work
- Fishing industry
- Pilots and flight engineers
- Recycling and refuse workers
- Truck drivers and traveling sales professionals
- Agricultural workers and farmers
- Steel and iron workers
- Construction industry
- Landscaping and lawn service
3. Workplace injuries caused an average of eight days away from work.
The high cost of treating workplace injuries includes the lost productivity time of employees as they recover from the incident. As a result, the most disabling workplace injuries cost companies $59.59 billion annually.
Liberty Mutual tracks these injuries and their cost to employers. They report on the types of injuries and the cost per billions annually to the American employer. This includes:
|Simple overexertion injuries
|Falls on the same level
|Struck by an object
|Falls to a lower level
|Other bodily reactions or exertions
|Slip or trip without fall
|Repetitive motion injuries
|Colliding with objects or equipment
|Caught in running equipment
4. U.S. businesses spend more than one billion dollars each week on nonfatal workplace injuries.
According to OSHA, employers are footing the bill for exorbitant direct workers’ compensation costs for non-fatal for disabling workplace injury costs. While many employers have implemented workplace safety initiatives, they are not alleviating the burden of these expenses. The issue that most companies fail to address is how they treat workplace injuries when they inevitably occur. In most cases, the injured worker is transported to the closest ER, which remains the highest point of entry into the American healthcare system. Given that most workplace injuries are minor and orthopedic in nature, this remains an excessive response to injuries that most often do not require an urgent emergency response.
5. For every $1 spent on direct workplace injury costs, employers also spend $2.12 on indirect costs.
These sobering statistics illustrate the hidden costs of even one workplace injury in your business. Workplace injury affects more than just the injured worker; it has a negative effect on your entire company. Some of the indirect costs associated with workplace injury include:
- Accident investigation, documentation, and safety training
- Equipment or property repairs
- Lost or reduced production
- Lower employee morale and turnover
- Possible OSHA fines
- Temp workers to replace the injured employee
Even one workplace injury can wreak havoc on your business for years to come.
6. Small companies average 1.2 on-the-job injuries per 100 FTEs.
Small companies simply cannot afford the statistic showing that private companies had an average of 1.2 workplace injuries per 100 full-time employees. The study defined small businesses as those with 10 or fewer employees. Manufacturing, construction, and retailers all had high workplace injury rates for their size. The numbers increased as companies grew in size:
- Companies with 50 to 249 employees had an incident rate of 3.3 per 100 FTEs
- Companies with 250 to 999 employees had an incident rate of 2.9
7. Private industry workers with sprains, strains, or tears visited the ER at a rate of 6.5 casers per 10,000 FTEs.
The leading causes of work-related injuries are overexertion, slips, trips, falls, and contact with equipment or objects. This includes lifting, pushing, or carrying injuries that commonly wrench the back. Repetitive motion injuries such as carpel tunnel are also common. Slipping and spraining an ankle also commonly ends up in the ER.
8. The average cost of one workers’ compensation claim is $41,003.
The data shows the costliest workers’ compensation claim is the result of motor vehicle crashes. These incidents average $78,466 per claim. Burns, including chemical burns, were also above the national average, at $49,521 per claim. Falling and slipping also came in above the average, at $47,516, as did being caught in a machine, at $43,538. One thing is clear: if the on-the-job injury is an OSHA recordable event, it’s going to cost employers a substantial amount.
9. Employers spent $171 billion on work injury costs in 2019.
Those numbers equal approximately $1,100 per employee in your business. The $171 billion includes wage and productivity losses ($53.9 billion), medical expenses ($35.5 billion), administrative expenses ($59.7 billion), and uninsured costs ($13.3 billion) of things like injury investigations and documentation.
10. Telemedicine can cut workplace injury costs by 80%.
The data shows that most employers are treating even minor injuries by sending the employee to the ER. That’s an outdated approach when modern technology can bring a clinician directly to the employee on the job, right where and when the incident occurred. Telemedicine remote injury care allows your safety officer to dial up a clinical consult straight from their laptop, tablet, or cell phone. Immediate triage by a trained healthcare professional can provide the insight you need to determine whether an ER visit is necessary. It gives workers a sense of immediate care and comfort and it cuts workplace injury costs by up to 80%.
There is a better way to handle on-the-job injuries. Talk with the team at OrthoLive to help improve your workplace injury response.
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