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Workplace injuries and employer costs in 2016

Few line items in a budget affect an employer’s bottom line more than workplace injuries. The costs associated with medical treatment, partial pay and lost productivity nationwide are in the billions of dollars.

Each year, Liberty Mutual Insurance ranks the top 10 causes of the most serious workplace injuries based on the associated expenses to employers. The findings of their annual Workplace Safety Index come from information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Researchers analyzed data to determine the accidents that resulted in injuries and rank those events by total workers’ compensation costs. Results were mixed, showing both encouraging and discouraging signs. While total costs have dropped, certain categories of injuries increased.

The results of the 2017 study revealed workplace accidents resulting in employees missing six or more days of work cost employers $59.9 billion. That amount comes in lower than 2016’s $61.9 billion.

Ten leading categories that resulted in disabling, non-fatal work injuries accounted for $49.9 billion or 83.4 percent, an increase from the previous year’s 82.5 percent. The top three in that list of ten represent half of those costs and include:

  • Overexertion at $13.8 billion or 23 percent, a reduction from 2016
  • Falls on same level at $10.6 billion or 17.7 percent, increasing from the previous year
  • Falls to lower level at $5.5 billion or 9.2 percent, representing another increase from 2016

Direct expenses include medical care for serious workplace injuries and paying a portion of injured workers’ pay. Indirect costs encompass hiring temporary staff and disruptions in productivity and quality.

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