American businesses spend tens of billions of dollars every year compensating workers for injuries they received on the job. Injuries and illnesses are generally avoidable, and can cost a company time, money, and reputation (to say nothing of the harm to the worker themselves!). A recent study by the Travelers Companies (one of the largest worker’s compensations insurers in the US) gave a breakdown of common workplace injuries, and what caused them.
Interestingly, the most common type of injury found by Travelers were strains and sprains, which accounted for around 30% of their sample. In an average year, sprains and strains cause American workers to miss more than 68 million days of work, and cost businesses more than $20 billion. These injuries are usually caused by improper material handling; basically workers trying to lift more weight than they should.
In a distant second place, Travelers found that the second most common workplace injuries were cuts and punctures, followed by contusions. These injuries are caused by a wide variety of mistakes, but most commonly by slips and falls, collisions, and accidents with tools. Put together, these injuries forced workers to miss more than 31 million days of work and cost businesses around $10 billion.
The most important lesson to draw from this study is just how preventable most workplace injuries are. Training your employees in proper material handling can drastically reduce their chance of a sprain. Fall hazards can be identified early with regular safety inspections. The shortcomings that cause most workplace injuries are easy to fix, as long as you know there’s something wrong.
Savvy business owners should ensure that their company has both a training and inspection regimen in place to catch lapses in safety before they start hurting employees. Keeping track of your workplace safety obligations can seem like a hassle, but it can save you a lot in the long run by preventing common workplace injuries.