The 5 Most Common Causes of Workplace Injuries

Photo (cc) by Tony Crider

A worker is injured on the job every seven seconds, according to the National Safety Council. That’s 12,900 workplace injuries per day and 4.7 million per year.

A report released this week by Travelers Indemnity Co. indicates that material handling is by far the most common cause of workplace injury. Material handling includes lifting, lowering, filling, emptying or carrying materials.

Injuries caused by material handling most commonly include:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Cuts and punctures
  • Contusions
  • Inflammation
  • Fractures

Woody Dwyer, second vice president of Workers Compensation and Risk Control at Travelers, explains:

“Even seemingly minor injuries, such as strains or sprains, can substantially impact an employee and slow a business’s operations and productivity.”

The Travelers report identified the most common causes of workplace accidents and injuries based on its analysis of more than 1.5 million workers’ compensation claims filed between 2010 and 2014 from a variety of business sizes and industries.

Overall, the five most common causes of accidents and injuries are:

  1. Material handling (accounting for 32 percent of all claims)
  2. Slips, trips and falls (16 percent)
  3. Being struck by or colliding with an object (10 percent)
  4. Accidents involving tools (7 percent)
  5. Traumas occurring over time, such as when a part of the body is injured by overuse or strain (4 percent)

Dwyer notes that such injuries are often preventable:

“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.”

The Travelers report also shows that certain causes of accidents and injuries are more common in specific industries. For example:

  • Material handling accidents are more common in the manufacturing and retail industries, causing 37 percent of injuries in each sector.
  • Falling from a height is among the top causes of injuries in the construction and retail industries.
  • The oil and gas industry is the only industry in which motor vehicle accidents are one of the most frequent causes of injury.
  • Eye injuries were one of the most frequent types of injuries in manufacturing and construction.

What’s your take on the prevalence of workplace injuries? Should employers be doing more to prevent them? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

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