Insurance research looks into the causes of workplace injuries

Workplace injuries cost businesses around the country about $170 billion every year according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and researchers from the insurance company Travelers looked into how American workers become sick or suffer injuries to better understand these costs and identify ways that workplace safety could be improved. Travelers provides more workers’ compensation coverage to American employers than any other insurance carrier, and it based its research on more than 1.5 million claims filed by injured or sick workers between 2010 and 2014, including some in Pennsylvania.

OSHA figures indicate that approximately 3.7 million private and public sector workers suffer some sort of on-the-job injury each year, and Travelers discovered that almost a third of these injuries were related to material handling. Trips, slips and falls accounted for another 16 percent of workplace injuries, and workers being struck by or colliding with an object was identified in 10 percent of the cases studied and was the third leading cause of injuries.

Sprains and strains were the most common outcome of these workplace accidents, but cuts, punctures and contusions were also fairly common. Workers who suffered strains or sprains were unable to work for an average of 57 days while cuts and punctures sidelined workers for about 24 days. The researchers concluded that even seemingly minor workplace injuries can have a significant impact on workers and impact productivity.

Workers’ compensation insurance premiums are a major expense for American employers, and a desire to keep these costs under control may sometimes prompt business owners to contest the claims made by injured or sick workers. Attorneys with experience in workers’ compensation cases may advocate on behalf of injured workers whose employers claim that they are exaggerating the severity of their injuries or that they were hurt while performing acts unrelated to their employment.