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Focus on Workers’ Comp: How Workers Get Hurt
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Focus on Workers’ Comp: How Workers Get Hurt

The Travelers has issued an interesting injury analysis of 1.5 million comp claims filed between 2010 and 2014. The data provides a snapshot of the riskiest activities in the American workplace. Nearly one third of all injuries involved material handling, with slips and falls in second place at 16 percent  (no doubt with seasonal peaks in winter); 10 percent involved being struck by or colliding with something (this would include auto accidents); 7 percent involved tools; and 4 percent were the result of cumulative trauma. There are lots of ways to get hurt at work, but moving things around is clearly number one.

The safety solution for preventing material handling injuries is deceptively simple: make sure that employees use proper body mechanics when lifting, bending and reaching. Keep lifted objects as close to the body as possible. Know the weight of an object before you try to lift it. If something is too heavy, get help with the lift. By all means use mechanical aids (forklifts, jacks and the like) but make sure operators are focused, trained and vigilant.

Prevention

The Travelers study identifies three keys to preventing injuries: first - and foremost in my book - hire motivated people who are committed to working safely; second, onboard new employees with an emphasis on safe practices; and finally, build a work culture that recognizes the importance of safe work: safety performance should be a significant consideration in awarding bonuses to supervisors and managers.

Workers' comp provides a safety net for people who are injured on the job. While we can mitigate the cost of claims by returning these employees to work as quickly as possible, the best cost management program is prevention: knowing the risks of every job and making sure the work is performed safely, moment by moment, every working day.

Jon Coppelman
Senior Workers Compensation Consultant  
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