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Falls not Falling on Injury Rankings

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One of the most obvious ways to be injured – anywhere – is to fall. It’s a simple observation that is supported by statistics showing that falls are near the top of lists of nonfatal and fatal injuries that happen in the workplace.

According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $62 billion in U.S. workers’ compensation costs in 2013, the most recent year for which the data used in the index were available. The index is compiled by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and uses information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance to find which events caused employees to miss six or more days of work and then ranks those causes by total workers’ compensation costs.

Falls to the same level (16.4%, or $10.16 billion) and falls to a lower level (8.7%, or $5.4 billion) came in second and third, respectively. Taken together, they accounted for over a quarter of the total costs on the most recent index. It’s worth noting that slips or trips that did not result in falls came in seventh place, accounting for $2.35 billion, or 3.8% of the top 10 total that year.

According to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released in September 2015, fatal falls, slips, and trips increased by 10 percent in 2014 from the previous year. Falls to a lower level were up 9 percent to 647 from 595 in 2013, while falls on the same level increased 17 percent, according to the BLS. Overall, fatal work injuries increased by 2 percent in 2014 from the prior year, although the rate of 3.3 per 100,000 full-time workers stayed the same. 

With winter still upon us, here is another statistic to consider: The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America and United Heartland reported recently that almost a third of all Midwestern workers’ compensation claims that included lost time were the result of slips and falls on ice and snow.

According to those insurers, winter-related slip and fall claims doubled from 2013 to 2014.

The top five states were:
1. Indiana (37%)
2. Wisconsin (33%)
3. Michigan (32%)
4. Illinois (32%)
5. Minnesota (29%)

Accidents can and will happen, of course. What is your workplace doing to minimize the risk of them resulting from slips, trips and falls?

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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