According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 4.5 million workplace injuries occur every year. That means that every 7 seconds, a worker’s life is impacted by an injury, either temporarily or permanently. Some of the most common causes of injury are overexertion, coming into contact with objects and equipment, and slips, trips and falls.
For Missouri Employers Mutual, 2018 held few surprises compared to previous years and the NSC’s national averages. Strains and slips, trips and falls were responsible for the most lost-time claims. Together, these two categories accounted for more than half of MEM’s claims. Struck by incidents were the third most common at 15 percent.
The most severe workplace injuries, indicated by a high cost per claim, were caused by burns and scalds. The cost per claim for this type of injury was more than 1.5 times the average. Slip, trip and fall injuries also had higher-than-average claim costs; these accounted for about a quarter of injuries but more than one third of claim costs.
Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls were some of the top causes of injuries in terms of both frequency and severity. While injuries occurring on the same level were the most common type, falls from an elevation increased injury severity and led with a very high cost per claim. Most slip, trip and fall incidents caused injuries to the knee, ankle or back. Nonprofits, hospitals, restaurants, carpentry, roofing, and transportation were among the industries most affected.
Prevent slip, trip and fall injuries by requiring employees to wear appropriate footwear and not walk quickly or run through work environments. Make sure floor surfaces are dry and clear, and that items such as rugs or cords are secured. Urge employees to pay attention to their walking path and discourage them from carrying loads that may obstruct their view. Removing walkway hazards can prevent the injuries that result from them. Learn more about preventing slips. >
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains caused the most workplace injuries resulting in lost-time claims. With a cost per claim 24 percent lower than average, these injuries are not as shocking or severe as some other categories. However, they are the most common. Most of these injuries were caused by lifting, pushing and pulling. More than half occurred to the shoulders, back, and knees. Sprains and strains were frequent in restaurants, healthcare (including hospitals and home health), firefighters, and residential construction.
Incorporating safe lifting practices into the workplace is essential to keep workers from injuring themselves. Overexertion and improper lifting can cause damage to spinal bones, discs, tendons, and cartilage. Ensure that workers are trained on the appropriate way to lift heavy loads and equip them with gloves or support equipment to assist in moving it. Teach employees to work together to get heavier jobs done.
Burns or scalds
Burns or scalds were not common but did lead to severe injuries, most often to the lower arms and hands. Restaurants and auto shops were most affected, often due to contact with fire or a hot object or substance. When working with hot liquids or grease, protective gloves and aprons should be worn. In food service workplaces, turn handles of hot pots or pans inwards to prevent them from being knocked over, and potholders should be used to lift them. More tips on food service safety. >
The most common struck by injuries resulted from the injured being struck by another person (primarily colleagues or patients), or by falling or flying objects. The most severe injuries occurred when individuals were struck by motor vehicles, often because the driver didn’t see them, or because brake or safety mechanisms were not properly engaged. Train your employees on how to properly use machinery to reduce the possibility of being struck. Never allow improper use of the machines, such as standing in elevated loading buckets. Employees should never stand directly in front of or behind working machines.
The bottom line
Workplace injuries can have a devastating impact on your business and your employees. You can avoid many of the most common workplace injuries by implementing safety measures and educating employees on best practices. Commit today to making 2019 an injury-free year for your workplace!
Source: Missouri Employers Mutual claim data, 1/1/18 – 11/30/18