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Top ten most disabling injuries

The Liberty Mutual Research Institute recently released the 2007 Workplace Safety Index identifying the workplace injuries that cost employers the most in Workers’ Compensation. The ten most disabling injuries – resulting in a loss of six or more days of work – include:
1. Overexertion, which includes injuries caused by excessive lifting,
pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing: $12.7 billion (26.3 percent)
2. Fall on the same level: $6.6 billion (13.6 percent)
3. Fall to a lower level: $5 billion (10.4 percent)
4. Bodily reaction, which includes injuries from slipping or tripping without falling:
$4.8 billion (10 percent)
5. Struck by an object: $4.4 billion (9 percent)
6. Highway incidents: $2.3 billion (4.8 percent)
7. Repetitive motion: $2.1 billion (4.4 percent)
8. Struck against an object (for example, a worker walking into a door): $2 billion (4.3 percent)
9. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects: $1.9 billion (3.9 percent)
10. Assaults and/or violent acts: $0.4 billion (0.8 percent)
As has been true for several years, the incidence of these injuries decreased (21%) but the inflation-adjusted cost of the top 10 injuries increased by almost 4 percent.

The injury categories which saw the highest increase in costs from 1998 to 2005 were fall on the same level (a 25.6 percent increase) and fall to a lower level (a 16.4 percent increase). According to the BLS, floors, walkways, and ground surfaces accounted for 19 percent of injuries in 2005, and falls from ladders increased by 10 percent from 2004. Falls on the same level and falls to a lower level also include injuries such as fractures, which generally rank in the top two injuries for median number of days away from work and, thus, are injuries that cost more in Workers' Comp.

Two injury categories significantly declined in cost from 1998 to 2005: repetitive motion (a 27.5 percent decline) and assaults and/or violent acts (a 19.4 percent decline). According to the report, several recent studies and BLS data indicate that the number of repetitive motion injuries has dropped significantly, which most researchers attribute to two factors. First, the number of diagnoses of carpal tunnel syndrome, which researchers believe was likely over-diagnosed by medical professionals in its "heyday," has declined. Second, increased attention by employers to making ergonomic improvements in the workplace has reduced the risks of repetitive injuries to workers. For assaults and/or violent acts, BLS statistics indicate that reports of lost workday injuries in this category have declined significantly in recent years. For instance, from 2004 to 2005, injuries in this category declined by 18 percent.

Coupled with company-specific injury data, the index can be helpful in and addressing safety issues in the workplace.