Liberty Mutual Report: Serious Workplace Injuries Cost Businesses $1B Per Week

Liz Carey

Boston, MA – According to a new report from Liberty Mutual Insurance, serious workplace injuries cost employers $1 billion per week.

The report — Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index — looked at data from 2015 from Liberty Mutual, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Academy of Social Insurance to rank serious, nonfatal workplace injuries based on direct workers’ compensation costs.

Just the top ten most serious injuries and illnesses accounted for $52 billion a year in medical and lost wage costs for businesses. While the number of incidents of those injuries decreased 1.5 percent, the costs increased 2.9 percent. The total cost of all disabling injuries and illnesses was nearly $60 billion per year.

For the fourth straight consecutive year, overexertion involving outside sources was the leading cause of disabling injuries, accounting for more than a quarter of the losses, at $13.7 billion per year. Other injuries and illnesses included:

  • Falls on same level ($11.2 billion)
  • Falls to lower level ($5.9 billion)
  • Struck by object or equipment ($5.3 billion)
  • Other exertions or bodily reactions ($4.2 billion)
  • Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle ($3.2 billion)
  • Slip or trip without a fall ($2.3 billion)
  • Caught in or compressed by equipment or object ($2.1 billion)
  • Struck against equipment or object ($2 billion)
  • Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks ($1.5 billion)

“To effectively improve safety, each employer needs to understand the root causes of the most serious workplace injuries they experience, and the ways to effectively mitigate these through training, equipment and work design,” James Merendino, general manager of risk control at Liberty Mutual, said in a press release.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 was a dangerous year to be a worker. That year’s fatal workplace injury report showed that 4,836 workers died from work-related injuries, the highest at the time, since 2008, or a rate of 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

Then Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said at the time, “These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires.”

On May 7, the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held its annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls week through May 11 to bring attention to the issue of falls in the workplace, responsible for $17 billion in employer costs per year.

Lack of proper fall protection is the most frequently cited OSHA violation, the organization said in a press release. Stand-downs across the country provide employers and workers with the opportunity to talk about hazards, protective methods, company safety policies and goals, as well as participate in training, the organization said.

A spokesman for OSHA did not immediately return emails and calls for comment by press time.