Workplace Injury

What Are the Top Injuries Driving Workers’ Compensation Claims?

Overexertion, same-level falls and falls to a lower level top the list.
By: | May 8, 2018 • 2 min read

Working off the most complete data set available, Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index identified the top 10 types of workplace injuries.

Topping the list is “overexertion involving outside sources,” which accounted for 23.4 percent of workplace injuries and cost employers $13.7 billion. That figure is based on data from accident year 2015, which is the most recent year for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can provide complete data.

The category of “overexertion” involves injuries related to pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing objects.

The second most prevalent type of workplace injury involved “falls on the same level,” which accounted for 19.2 percent of the employer cost burden from workplace injuries and generated $11.2 billion in losses for employers, according to the Boston-based property/casualty insurer’s report.

Ranking third through fifth on the report were “falls to a lower level,” (with $5.9 billion in losses), “struck by an object or equipment,” (with $5.3 billion in losses) and a category described as “other exertions or bodily reactions,” (which generated $4.2 billion in losses) and accounted for 7.2 percent of injuries.


The loss figure of close to $60 billion for 2015 represented a 2.9 percent increase over the injury-related financial losses to employers in 2014, according to the report.

Rich Angevine, a spokesman for Liberty Mutual, said due to changes in employment figures and other factors, it’s too early to say whether injury-related costs for employers can definitely be said to have increased in 2016 and 2017.

The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index is based on information from Liberty Mutual, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

It takes a while for analysts to gather mature workers’ compensation data, which is why 2015 is the most recent accident year for which complete loss data is available.

The BLS data is analyzed to determine which events caused employees to miss six or more days of work. Those events are then ranked by the total workers’ compensation costs, the report stated.

It takes a while for analysts to gather mature workers’ compensation data, which is why 2015 is the most recent accident year for which complete loss data is available.

“The reason for that is that workers’ compensation costs come in and go out over the life of a claim,” Angevine said.

“So in order to create an accurate summary of costs for the accidents that happened in 2015, the data has to age,” he added.

The remaining five loss drivers on the list were roadway incidents involving motor vehicles, slip or trip without a fall, caught or compressed by equipment or an object, stuck against an object or equipment and repetitive motion involving micro-tasks.  Those five categories of injury account for 19.1 percent of injuries, according to the Liberty Mutual report. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]