Workplace injury rates are staggering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are over one million severe occupational injuries occurring annually in the U.S. According to the 2011 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, over-exertion injuries alone accounted for over $50 billion in direct U.S. workers' compensation costs. These expenditures, also called "hard costs," are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Indirect expenditures, also called hidden or "soft costs" often far exceed direct costs. Also not to be overlooked are the often-immeasurable emotional and physical impacts work injuries have on injured employees and their families.
It is clear that workplace injuries are an onerous problem for businesses and injured workers alike. They hurt productivity, company morale, and bottom lines. The question is: Are injury prevention strategies worthwhile, or are injuries simply part of the cost of doing business? It is this author's position, and experience, that all injuries are indeed preventable, and that prevention solutions that actually work will indeed consistently provide more than a worthwhile return on investment.
Also according to the 2011 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, a review of the top ten causes of the most disabling injuries of 2009 shows that "over-exertion" is the number one cause of work place injuries, accounting for over 25% of all claims. Over-exertion refers to injuries associated with excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying and throwing. With over-exertion identified as a primary cause of work injury, the targeting of prevention strategies becomes more precise. Specifically, addressing workers' pain and their attitudes about reporting it should be made a priority of any prevention strategy.