It’s not uncommon in the workers’ compensation arena that we hear allegations of malingering or workers being hurt on purpose to reap the monetary rewards of a work injury. Some employers refuse to settle a case as long as the worker is still employed by the company, fearing a large monetary settlement will encourage other workers to get injured. The limited benefits of a workers’ compensation claim make these assertions ridiculous. Specifically, no benefits are paid for the pain and suffering. Additionally, the reality is that many states compensate a permanent injury for only a matter of weeks or years. The worker and his or her family are left to deal with the ongoing effects of these injuries for the balance of their lifetime.
The Insurance Journal listed the top 10 leading causes “of serious, nonfatal workplace injuries” from “2012 claims data for injuries lasting six or more days and ranked the injuries by total workers’ compensation costs,” according to a recent article.
Not surprisingly, horseplay or purposefully getting injured was not among them. In fact, the leading cause of workplace injuries is ironically enough – overexertion! Overexertion and other exertion-related injuries made up almost a third of all workplace injuries. So much for the theory of money-hungry workers playing around or purposefully getting injured. Falls comprise two of the top 10 leading causes of workplace injuries, making up a total of just over 24 percent of all injuries. Being struck by or striking objects combined for around 15 percent. Motor vehicle accidents (5.3 percent) and repetitive movements (3.1 percent) round out the top 10 list. The full list is detailed below. In total, the 10 most common work injuries accounted for almost 84 percent of all injuries.
- Overexertion 25.3 percent
- Falls on same level 15.4 percent
- Struck by object or equipment 8.9 percent
- Falls to lower level 8.6 percent
- Other exertions or bodily reactions 7.2 percent
- Roadway incidents 5.3 percent
- Slip or trip without fall 3.6 percent
- Caught in or by equipment or objects 3.5 percent
- Repetitive motions 3.1 percent
- Struck against object or equipment 2.9 percent
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace deaths have decreased from 38 per day in 1970 to 12 per day in 2012, according to the article. Additionally, OSHA reports occupational injury and illness rates have declined 67 percent since 1970, all while employment has almost doubled.
Despite these accomplishments, insurance companies and large employers continue to lobby state legislatures about the injustice and cost of workers’ compensation benefits. In reality, workers and their families continue to bear the real burdens of workplace injuries.