The Most Common Workplace Injuries and How to Prevent Them

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 2, 2015 1:00:00 PM / by Deborah Lechner

We all want to believe that our workplaces are safe and productive places. Unfortunately, information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that serious, non-fatal work-related illness and injuries happened to 109.4 of every 10,000 full-time workers in 2013. That's a significant number—one with both a human and a financial toll. According to the 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, disabling workplace injuries and illnesses racked up costs of nearly $60 billion in 2012. Fortunately, there is a lot employers can do to rise above the numbers. Knowing the most common workplace injuries is a great place to start if you want to prevent them.

Workplace Injuries Have Far Reaching Effects

Workplace injuries are a troublesome issue, and when they occur, the trouble spreads in a variety of directions. One is the pain and suffering for injured employees, including time missed from work, income reduction, and the challenges and expenses of treatment and recovery. For fellow employees injury disrupts the workplace in a number of ways, including absences where fewer employees must do more with less help.

Employers are hardly left untouched, either. Aside from the difficulties of seeing an employee hurt, employers must also deal with legal and financial ramifications as well as less quantifiable costs from lost productivity. In very serious injury cases, the expense and time commitment associated with eplacing injured workers compounds an already serious problem.

Most Common Workplace Injuries

According to the2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most common workplace injuries are those resulting from overexertion; that is, ones related to activities that require lifting, holding, carrying, pushing, pulling, or throwing. These injuries accounted for 25.3 percent of injuries lasting for six or more days, and accumulated $15.1 billion in workers' compensation costs.

Falls come in second, with same-level falls accounting for 15.4 percent of workplace injuries and accruing workers' comp costs of $9.19 billion. Lower level falls caused 8.6 percent of injuries and caused $5.12 billion in costs.

Rounding out the top five are injuries from being struck by objects or equipment (8.9 percent of injuries and $5.3 billion in costs), and those classified as "other" exertions injuries, which typically derive from activities like walking, crawling, bending, twisting, or reaching. These totaled 7.2 percent of injuries and $4.27 billion in workers' comp costs.


It's a broad range of activities—no doubt some of the same ones that your employees perform every day. So what can you do to mitigate the risk?

Preventing Workplace Injuries

You can't prevent every workplace injury. You can, however employ safety measures that make a big difference in the number of occurrences. A clean, well-organized workplace that is supplied with all necessary safety equipment is, of course, essential to preventing workplace injuries. But so is going one step beyond: implementing pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing that helps stop injuries before they have they can happen.

If your industry is a physically demanding one like trucking, warehousing, construction, oil and gas, manufacturing, or health care, your employees face higher risk of injury than those in lower impact jobs. These types of workplaces can be better protected with more substantial safety measures, such as adding pre-employment physical abilities testing to the hiring process. These testing programs offer employers to add a scientifically validated and legally defensible post-offer screen to insure they hire only those candidates who are able to meet the physical requirements of their jobs. The result: a safer work environment, built one well-qualified worker at a time.

As in so many other areas of business and life, knowledge is power: knowing the most common workplace injuries and then acting to minimize their occurrence by investing in a combination of effective workplace safety measures and physical abilities testing is putting that knowledge to work.

When are Physical abilities test best performed

Topics: Workplace Safety

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.