How Common Are Workplace Accidents & Fatalities in the US?
The wobbly ladder, wet floor, blind turn… most workplaces have some potential for workplace injuries. Let’s take a look at just how common these workplace accidents are and which types of accidents top the list.
Each year the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases two reports documenting employer-reported workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The data from 2014 were recently released and the results are mixed.
Collectively, both reports indicate that an employee is more likely to get injured than to become seriously ill in the course of employment. In fact, the BLS reported that 95 percent of the reported nonfatal incidents were injuries, with slips, trips and falls the most common causes.
Although still rare, the number of workplace fatalities increased two percent from 2013 to 2014.
On the positive side, the number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses decreased by two percent in 2014. This continues a pattern of incident rate decline that, with the exception of 2012, has occurred every year for the last 12 years.
The Importance of Creating a Culture of Safety
On-the-job accidents, illnesses and injuries can lead to direct and indirect costs to businesses. More than half of the nearly three million injury and illness cases reported by private employers involved time lost, a job transfer, or restricted work duties. This can mean lost productivity, medical and legal expenses, and potential increases to a business’s workers’ compensation insurance premium. Workplace accidents can also reduce employee morale.
Businesses looking to reduce the likelihood and frequency of workplace accidents or injuries can benefit by fostering a culture of safety. Here are three steps you can take to keep your business safe and productive:
- Promote a culture of safety. A safety culture emphasizes an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, encouraging accountability and shared responsibility for making sure policies and procedures are adhered to. For example, knowing that slips, trips and falls are the most common causes of workplace injuries across all industries, businesses should make sure there is adequate lighting in storage rooms and hallways; use proper signage to warn patrons and employees of wet floors and slick entryways; and encourage employees to wear close-toed, anti-skid footwear.
- Review. Reinforce. Repeat. Once your safety plan is in place, establish clear guidelines for introducing these policies to all staff. New employees should learn about your safety procedures during their first week on the job. Revisit safety plans frequently with all employees, and make sure everyone understands both the importance of – and their role in – creating a culture of safety.
- Collaborate with your insurance carrier or agent. Most insurance carriers have safety professionals who are able to share best practices for maintaining a safe workplace. Carriers also likely have online educational resources for keeping businesses safe. In addition, agents and brokers are also experts in the particular insurance requirements in your state and can help you select the appropriate coverage to protect your business.
Fostering a safe working environment helps business owners keep workplace incident rates on the decline. It is a good idea for employers to review their safety plans at least once per year. Business owners can contact their carrier for helpful information and tips and best practices to effectively implement a safety plan to keep their business and employees safe.