Is Workplace Safety in Decline

Is Workplace Safety in Decline

Although every June businesses around the country celebrate National Safety Month, figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the end of last year were very alarming. Employers reported 2.8 million injury and illness cases in 2022, up 7.5% from 2021 as well as a total of 5,486 fatal work injuries in 2022, up 5.7% from 2021. The BLS also reports that the months of June, July, and August actually do produce the most workplace injuries.

According to the 2023 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, (Link to 2 page report) the top 10 most disabling workplace injuries cost $48.15 Billion in workers’ compensation costs. (Direct costs of all disabling work related injuries equal $58.61 Billion.) Per their report, here are their Top 10 findings:

  1. Overexertion involving outside sources: 21.9% of total work related injuries & $12.84 billion in overall costs
  2. Falls on the same level: 15.3% of total – $8.98 billion
  3. Falls to lower level: 10.4% of total – $6.09 billion
  4. Struck by object or equipment: 8.8% of total – $5.14 billion
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions: 6.3% of total – $3.67 billion
  6. Exposure to other harmful substances: 5.7% of total – $3.35 billion
  7. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle: 4.4% of total – $2.58 billion
  8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects: 3.4% of total – $1.98 billion
  9. Slip or trip without fall: 3.3% of total – $1.92 billion
  10. Pedestrian vehicular incidents: 2.7% of total – $1.61 billion

Now that we know “the what”, we need to look at “the why”. Why is there an increase in jobsite injuries?

As farfetched as it might seem, much of the increase can be attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown. During this period, we experienced the “great resignation” as many workers chose not to return to their workplace, thus mandating the employer to hire new employees who lacked adequate training and/or experience. Statistics show that many injuries occur during the new hire’s first month on the job!

Also, during this period of “working from home”, many employees reduced their physical activity which left them unprepared to resume work. Added to this, once returned to work, there was a tremendous increase in overall hours worked year over year resulting in overexertion.

With high employee turnover, a comprehensive safety-focused “onboarding process” is mandatory for new hires. This process involves orientation, training, mentorship and the development of clear lines of communication. “There are no stupid questions!”

Safety professionals possess both the experience and intuition necessary to assess and respond to safety risks and “onboarding”. In the future, blending the integration of technological advancements, AI, data analytics and continuous training with their previous human experience will allow the Safety Director to make informed decisions that will save lives and reduce injuries.

Meet Tom Harris, Dixie’s Safety Director

To learn more about who Dixie is, visit our About page.