If you have been fortunate enough to avoid a workplace accident of your own, you probably picture work-related injuries as dramatic, hazardous events. Whether it is a construction worker falling from great heights or an underwater welder suffering a catastrophe, your idea of an on-the-job injury likely involves a hazardous job or task—certainly not Susan from two cubicles down lifting a few reams of copy paper.
When you get down to the brass tacks of workers’ compensation claims, however, Susan’s mundane injury and other injuries of its ilk make up a huge portion of workplace injuries. While falls and heavy equipment do account for a portion of accidents, most workers’ compensation claims simply involve lifting, pushing, or pulling a bit more than the individual can handle.
Using the latest data from 2012 claims, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety compiled its 2014 Workplace Safety Index, which breaks down (among other information) the top causes of workplace injury by cost. The top five causes of workplace injuries are:
- Overexertion ($15.1 billion in claims), including lifting, pushing, and pulling.
- Falls on the same level ($9.19 billion), primarily slip-and-falls.
- Worker being struck by an object or equipment ($5.3 billion), such as falling debris.
- Fall to a lower level ($5.12 billion), such as ladder and scaffolding accidents.
- Other exertions ($4.27 billion), such as twisting or bending.
While you may work in a field that isn’t inherently dangerous, you can see that a majority of claims involve simple, everyday tasks that almost every working individual performs. Being mindful of your own limitations, your immediate environment, and potential hazards can go a long way towards keeping yourself safe on the job.