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Overexertion Injuries Top Liberty Mutual's 2016 List

Overexertion involving outside sources ranked first among the leading causes of disabling injury, according to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.

Liberty Mutual released summary data from its 2016 Workplace Safety Index on Jan. 14, and the top cause of disabling injury on the list -- overexertion involving outside sources -- was no surprise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last November that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 32 percent of all injury and illness cases in 2014 and that the MSD incidence rate that year was 33.8 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, down from 35.8 cases the year before. The occupations with the most MSD cases in 2014 were nursing assistant, laborer, and freight, stock, and material mover, according to BLS.

Editor's note: OH&S Breakthrough Strategies columnist Robert Pater offers advice for reducing the frequency of soft-tissue injuries in this month's "No Strain Safety" column.

The data used in the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index are 2013 injury data, and the index was developed based on information from Liberty Mutual, BLS, and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Overexertion injuries cost businesses $15.08 billion in direct costs and accounted for nearly a quarter of the overall national injury burden, according to the index, while same-level falls were in second place with direct costs of $10.17 billion (accounting for 16.4 percent of the total injury burden. Falls to a lower level ranked third at $5.4 billion and 8.7 percent of the burden, and struck by object or equipment ranked fourth at $5.31 billion and 8.6 percent.

The top five injury causes accounted for 64.8 percent of the total cost burden, according to the index, while the remaining five injury causes combined accounted for 17.7 percent of the total direct cost of disabling injuries. They were: roadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle; a slip or trip without a fall; caught in/compressed by equipment or objects; struck against objects or equipment; and repetitive motions involving micro-tasks.

The direct costs of all disabling work-related injuries were $61.88 billion, with the top 10 causes accounting for 82.5 percent — $51.06 billion of the total cost burden.

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