One perennial cause of why construction workers get hurt on the job—lifting, pushing or pulling things—has risen to second place in one major insurer's latest ranking of most costly injuries. They account for about one out of five dollars of construction-related workers' compensation claims, or $2.21 billion.
That was one most notable aspect of the most recent data collected by Liberty Mutual.
The firm collects data on total workers’ compensation direct costs for non-fatal injuries that involve more than five days away from work. Liberty Mutual’s newest report, the construction "Workplace Safety Index 2021," uses 2018 data from its own claims, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance.
The report does not reflect injury data from 2020 and the disruptions from the pandemic.
According to Liberty Mutual, the total cost of such "overexertions" while handling objects lags behind falls, which are much more common, costly and do most of the damage to construction workers’ bodies year in and year out. Such falls accounted for one out of every three dollars of industry workers' compensation costs, or $3.56 billion.
Direct costs are only part of the damage inflicted by an accident. Indirect costs are not direct damage expenses, pre-funded loss allocations or losses covered by insurance. They could involve replacing the injured worker, fixing damaged equipment or recovering lost productivity.
In the previous index, based on 2017 data, lifting-related injuries claimed third spot in the ranking, accounting for 14.2%, or $1.48 billion in costs. What accounts for the increase from that level was not made clear.
Falls to a lower level as a top driver of loss are unique to construction, Liberty Mutual has noted. Ladder falls “likely represent a common scenario,” the insurer says, because they often inflict fractures or multiple-body-part injuries.