Causes and Costs of the Top 10 Disabling Workplace Injuries

Safety News

Disabling workplace injuries cost businesses more than $55 billion every year. The annual Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index documents the top ten causes of the most serious workplace injuries – those causing an employee to miss five or more days from work. It then ranks them by their direct cost to employers, considering medical and lost-wage payments. To capture accurate workplace injury costs data, the index is based on data from 3 years prior, so the 2019 index uses 2016 incident data.


Top Workplace Injuries by Direct Cost to U.S. Businesses

  1. Overexertion Involving Outside Sources – $13.1 billion – Related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing
  2. Falls on the Same Level – $10.4 billion – Such as slipping on a wet floor
  3. Struck by Object or Equipment – $5.2 billion – Such as an object falling from above
  4. Falls to Lower Level – $4.9 billion – Most often, falls from a ladder or platform
  5. Other Exertions or Bodily Reactions – $3.7 billion – Injuries from bending, twisting, reaching or similar
  6. Roadway Incidents Involving Motorized Vehicles – $2.7 billion – Highway accidents are one example
  7. Slip or Trip Without Fall – $2.2 billion – Trips on cords are common
  8. Caught-In or Compressed By Equipment – $1.9 billion – Getting caught in rollers or gears
  9. Repetitive Motions Involving Microtasks – $1.6 billion – Repeated motions or tasks on an assembly line, for example
  10. Struck Against Object or Equipment – $1.2 Billion – Walking into an open drawer or door – Ouch!

Workplace Injury Costs by Industry

The Index also reports the causes and costs of the most serious workplace injuries for eight specific industries that account for a high proportion of all national workplace injuries. The industries with the five highest workplace injury costs were:

  1. Construction – $9.87 billion
  2. Professional and Business Services – $7.86 billion
  3. Manufacturing – $7.62 billion
  4. Healthcare and Social Assistance – $5.17 billion
  5. Retail – $5.09 billion


2018 Workplace Injury Trends

In 2018, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The incidence rate for total recordable cases (TRC) in private industry remained unchanged from 2017. The incidence rates for days away from work (DAFW) cases and for days of job transfer and restriction only (DJTR) also were unchanged. Retail trade was the only private industry sector where the TRC rate increased in 2018.