Slip and fall accidents cost American businesses an estimated $13 billion, according to figures gathered by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute (i). Published in the 2012 Workplace Safety Index (WSI), these alarming numbers indicate that businesses might significantly benefit from more rigorous risk assessments, facility maintenance, commercial safety matting/ floor mats, and ongoing training to ensure employee safety.
More on WSI: The Workplace Safety Index is an annual report produced by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute, a leading authority in workplace accident research and prevention since 1954. Facts and figures are derived from Liberty Mutual workers compensation claims, providing insight on the leading causes of non-fatal accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace.
Workplace Accidents: Top 5 Causes for Injury in 2012
According to the 2012 Workplace Safety Index, the top 5 causes of injury to American employees include the following: Overexertion, fall on same level, bodily reaction, fall to lower level, and struck by object. Each of these categories is explored in greater detail below.
This category represents accidents that occur as a direct result of excessive lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, carrying, or throwing. Total Cost: $13.61 billion.
2. Fall on Same Level*
Fall on Same Level constitutes accidents that are of a slip and fall nature. As the name implies, this category of accident involves a single flat surface on which the individual slips and falls. Total Cost: $8.61 billion.
3. Bodily Reaction
This category represents accidents that occur due to stressful bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping (without falling). Total Cost: $5.78 billion.
4. Fall to Lower Level*
Fall to Lower Level constitutes accidents that are of a slip and fall nature. Unlike category 2 above, this type of accident involves an accident in which the individual slips on one surface and lands on another, lower surface. Total Cost: $5.12 billion.
5. Struck by Object
This category includes accidents in which an employee is inadvertently struck by a tool, machine, or other object (i.e. having a tool dropped on one’s foot). Total Cost: $4.10 billion.
*Total cost of slip and fall workplace accidents, as derived from Fall on Same Level and Fall to Lower Level incidents, amounts to approximately $13.73 billion in total costs.
Business owners and facility managers are wise to consider that the cumulative costs from these 5 categories represent approximately 73.1% of total cost burden, according to the Workplace Safety Index. And while that total cost burden is an inordinate fiscal amount, the upside to the Index’s figures is that decision makers now have the information needed to make proactive accident prevention decisions. By focusing on the top 5 causes of accidents above, decision makers can more intuitively invest in safety products while more effectively brainstorming ways to further reduce accidents with ongoing training.
By the Numbers: Slips and Falls Are Costing More
As a whole, American businesses have seen the total cost of non-fatal disabling workplace injuries decrease by about 4.7% from 1998-2010. Also decreasing were injuries due to repetitive motion and highway incidents, each of which declined by about $1 billion and a half billion, respectively.
However, the cost of slip and fall accidents is on the rise. Cost burden for the category Fall on the Same Level (a specific type of slip and fall), for example, increased by nearly $2 billion.
Note: All figures quoted above have been adjusted for inflation.
(i) “2012 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.” (click to download .pdf report)