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Ouch! What Causes Were Behind the Most Common Workplace Injuries?

From slip-and-fall injuries to carpal tunnel syndrome, there are probably millions of ways to get injured at work. People that engage in any type of work, whether it is behind a desk or balancing on scaffolding at great heights, are at risk of someday being injured on the job.

What Leads to These Injuries?

Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety recently released its 2014 Workplace Safety Index, chronicling the leading causes for workplace injuries. The causes themselves (based on the most recent data from 2012) may not be surprising, but the costs associated with each may shock you. Where many people may assume that the leading cause of workplace injury would be dangerous equipment, exposure, or heights, it seems that the most expensive (and possibly dangerous) workplace entity is ourselves.

The top ten causes and costs of injuries leading to workers’ compensation claims are:

  1. Overexertion – $15.1 billion
  2. Falls on the same level – $9.19 billion
  3. Struck by object or equipment – $5.3 billion
  4. Falls to a lower level – $5.12 billion
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions – $4.27 billion
  6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles – $3.18 billion
  7. Slip or trip without a fall – $2.17 billion
  8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects – $2.1 billion
  9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks – $1.84 billion
  10. Struck against an object or equipment – $1.76 billion


In the top five causes, which account for nearly two-thirds of workers’ compensation cases, exertion accounts for nearly half of the claims. Overexertion, categorized as pulling, pushing, lifting, and carrying, took top billing. Other exertions, defined by walking, crawling, bending, twisting, and other more passive actions, accounted for several injuries as well.

Despite the billions of dollars’ worth of claims that are filed each year, one thing is for certain—work is getting safer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has noted that despite our workforce practically doubling, workplace fatalities and occupational injuries and illnesses are down by 65 percent and 67 percent, respectively. Keep up the good work and stay safe on the job!