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Top 5 Workplace Injury Causes Make Up 72 Percent of Direct Workers' Comp Costs: Analysis

January 10, 2012
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The five leading causes of workplace injuries drive nearly 72 percent of the nation's direct workers compensation costs, according to research released Jan. 10 by Liberty Mutual Group Inc.

Overexertion—or injuries caused by lifting, pushing, pulling, holding and carrying—costs businesses $12.5 billon in direct annual expenses and accounts for more than 25 percent of the national burden, according to Liberty Mutual's Workplace Safety Index.

The index, compiled by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, relies on data that researchers collected on injuries causing at least six missed days of work.

Injury types are ranked by total workers comp costs with the latest findings culled from 2009 data compiled from Liberty Mutual claims, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

"Fall on same level" ranks as the No. 2 cause of disabling injury that drives direct costs of $7.94 billion, or 15.8 percent of the total injury burden. The other three leading causes of workplace injuries include:

• Fall to lower level, which caused $5.35 billion in costs.

• Bodily reaction—defined as injuries from bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, and slipping or tripping without falling, which drove $5.28 billion in expenses.

• Struck by object, which accounted for $4.64 billion in costs.

Injuries that round out the top 10 causes are highway incidents, "caught in/compressed by" mishaps, struck against object, repetitive motion and assaults. Each category accounted for less than 5 percent of the direct cost of disabling injuries in 2009.Overall, the top 10 cause categories accounted for 89.3 percent of the entire cost burden of disabling work-related injuries in 2009.Liberty Mutual also found that after adjusting for inflation, the overall direct costs of disabling workplace injuries decreased 4.6 percent in 2009 compared with 1998.

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