When people think of workplace accidents, they often think of life-threatening scenarios. But most worksite incidents are not fatal, though they can lead to long-term pain, require extensive medical treatments, or disable a worker for any amount of time. Some workers can collect workers’ compensation, and others may be forced to use sick days or personal time, but the loss of any employee costs businesses money – and it is these non-fatal, disabling injuries that often cost the most.
The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index is a yearly ranking of the most serious, nonfatal workplace accidents that are reported from workers’ compensation costs across America. Per their data, the Top 10 most expensive workplace injuries were caused by:
- Handling objects (like heavy boxes)
- Falls on the same level
- Falls to a lower level
- Being hit by objects
- Awkward postures
- Vehicle crashes
- Slips and trips (no fall)
- Colliding with objects or equipment
- Caught in equipment or machines
- Repetitive motions for microtasks (like swiping items across a scanner)
Employers spent a total of $58 billion on workers’ compensation costs last year on employees with disabling injuries.
What does this data tell us?
Across the board in 8 different industries, falls and overexertion were the primary causes of a disabling injury. For healthcare workers, that overexertion may come from lifting and moving patient bodies. In construction, the risk of a fall is high.
So, what does this mean?
First, that employers must institute higher safety standards to reduce and prevent these types of injuries. That could mean ensuring that all workers have the latest safety equipment – from safety harnesses, to crash avoidance technology in vehicles, to ergonomic chairs and blue light screens in offices.
Second, it shows that the most devastating injuries to employees and overall productivity may not be the ones that cause massive trauma. A fall from a scaffold on a construction site may lead to more broken bones than a trip due to a broken floor tile in an office, but the office employee who suffers head trauma may experience longer-lasting effects than the construction worker with the broken legs. It all depends on the worker and the injury.
Other workplace hazards
Almost any workplace poses a risk for some (if not all) of the Top 10 injuries, but some industries have their own specific risks. For example:
- Construction workers face risk of electric shock and electrocution
- Healthcare and manufacturing workers can face risk from toxic chemical exposure
- Retail workers face risk of workplace violence
- Fire fighters and first responders face risk of toxic inhalation and burn injuries
What to do if you get hurt on the job
If you are injured in the course of your job duties, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Certain traumatic injuries, like limb loss, may also entitle you to additional benefits. If the injury is disabling, but you are able to return to work, you may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits to help you learn a new skill or job.
If, however, the injury you sustain leaves you unable to work at all, then you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Unlike workers’ compensation, which has limits for how long you can collect, disability benefits are available for disabled workers until they reach their full retirement age and can begin collecting Social Security.
If you sustained injuries in a work-related accident, or need help applying for disability, call the Maryland workers’ compensation attorneys of Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. at 410-730-7737, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have offices throughout Maryland for your convenience.