According to the 2008 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, ergonomic-related injuries categories of overexertion and slips and falls account for more than half of the US disabling occupational injury burden. It also reports cost trends for the overall and leading causes of this category of injuries – defined as those injuries that cause an employee to miss six or more days from work.
The 10 categories ranked in the index produced 87.9 percent of the entire cost burden of disabling work-related injuries in 2006, and the top five accounted for 80 percent of the $48.6 billion cost.
- The ergonomics-related category of Overexertion injuries topped the list at 25.7 percent of the cost to business, at $12.4 billion. Liberty Mutual defines overexertion injuries as those related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing. The insurance company notes that historically, overexertion injuries have accounted for more than one-quarter of the total direct costs of the top 10 most disabling workplace injuries
- The ergonomics-related category of Falls on same level accounted for 13.3 percent and $6.4 billion
- The ergonomics-related category of Falls to a lower level ranked third, at 10.8 percent and $5.3 billion
- The ergonomics-related category of Bodily reaction accounted for 10 percent and $4.8 billion. This type of injury occurs when a worker a tries to regain a loss of balance during bending, climbing, and slipping or tripping without falling.
- Struck by object accounted for 8.9 percent and $4.3 billion
- Struck against objects claimed 5.1 percent and $2.5 billion
- Highway incidents accounted for 4.9 percent and $2.4 billion
- Caught in or compressed by – injuries resulting from workers being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects – took 4.4 percent and $2.1 billion
- The ergonomics-related category of Repetitive motion captured 4 percent and $2 billion
- Assaults and violent acts claimed 0.9 of the costs, at $0.4 billion.
Between 1998 and 2006, the costs of repetitive motion injuries showed the most significant decline (down 35.3 percent). Falls on same level and falls to a lower level each showed overall cost increases of 17.9, followed by struck against object, which increased by 16.2 percent.
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