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Diggin’ into Workplace Injury Data

Safety is a top priority for many construction companies. And that’s really good news. Safety needs to the be a priority for every company. How can we keep workers safe? One of the best places to start is to look at the trends and the data surrounding workplace accidents and injuries to gain better awareness about who is getting injured—and why.

One place to find such insights is the 2023 Travelers Injury Impact Report, which is an analysis to identify trends that can help inform businesses about workplace safety risks. The organization analyzed more than 1.2 million workers compensation claims submitted from 2016 to 2020. The data is based on lost time claims from those accident years. Here is what it found.

Who Is Getting Injured?

The answer to this is nuanced. For one, new employees seem to be injured very frequently. Roughly 34% of workplace injuries occurred during an employee’s first year on the job, resulting in almost 7 million missed workdays. First-year injuries made up one-third of all workers’ compensation costs. The industries most impacted by first-year injuries include restaurants, construction, and transportation. Perhaps this is because they haven’t received the proper training yet, or simply are unexperienced to know how to protect themselves on the job.

But does age factor into this? The data from the report shows those in the middle age group—those between ages 35 to 49—had the highest percentage when compared to other groups. Interestingly, the average cost per claim increased with age, with costs for employees ages 60 and older totaling nearly 15% more than employees between the ages of 35 and 49 and approximately 140% more than those ages 18 to 24.

Why Are They Getting Injured?

The top cause of accidents across all industries was overexertion, which can include strains or injuries resulting from twisting, reaching, lifting, jumping, wielding, or using a tool or machinery, among others. When looking at construction and small businesses, specifically, slips, trips, and falls took the top spot. Others include struck by an object, motor vehicle accidents, and caught-in or caught-between hazards.

When looking at the danger of slips, trips, and falls, these accidents are the highest average cost per claim. On average, this type of accident can keep employees out of work for an average of 83 days, while those who were involved in a motor vehicle accident—which is the second highest average cost per claim—were away from work for an average of 79 days.

What Can Be Done?

The U.S. Dept. of Labor OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Admin.) recognizes falls can be detrimental to both an individual’s life and to the workplace and is working to create a program to reduce and prevent workplace falls, which are the leading cause of workplace fatalities.

The U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) data shows that of the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in 2021, 680 were associated with falls from elevations, which is about 13% of all deaths.

In early May, OSHA announced the launch of its National Emphasis Program, which will focus on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries. The program creates direction for finding and inspecting fall hazards and allows OSHA compliance safety and health officers to open inspections whenever they observe someone working at heights.

Another part of the program is to focus on educating people about effective ways to keep workers safe. If an officer determines an inspection is not necessary after entering the site, they will provide outreach on fall protection and will leave the site.

Of course, this is simply one example of a way to reduce injuries. The Travelers report suggests understanding who is getting injured and what causes are leading to the injury. This can help inform the processes and training programs needed to keep employees safe. The end result is lower costs, less time away from work, keeping businesses running, and of course sending all employees home safely to their families every day. Isn’t that the whole point?

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