Safety Statistics Can Help Guide Workplace Policymaking

Sometimes, making smart decisions about workplace safety is all about having access to data: When you understand, for instance, which accidents are most prevalent, it can make it easier to know what types of safety practices you should be focusing on to decrease injuries and reduce risk-related costs. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides some useful statistics about OSHA violations that can aid in determining certain risks your company might be facing. For example, in 2013, the most frequently cited OSHA violations included inadequate fall protection, improper use of scaffolding and ladders, improper use of respiratory equipment, poorly designed electrical systems, workplace truck accidents, and machinery and machine guard violations.

And OSHA isn't the only place a company can look for insight into accident statistics. Top insurance carriers frequently list aggregate claims data to aid businesses in making risk management decisions. According to a survey of leading carriers nationwide, these are the top-reported worker's compensation injuries for 2013:

* Overexertion injuries: These are injuries that occur as a result of lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling -- injuries that use the big, major muscles.
* Slipping and tripping: Slipping and falling on wet or slippery floors or over objects left lying on the floor was the second most common type of injury.
* Falling from a high location: These include falls from roofs, ladders, scaffolding, stairs and any other high location.
* Reaction injuries: Essentially, these are slips and trips that do not result in falls, but can still result in injury and trauma including whiplash-like symptoms.
* Falling object injuries: This category includes injuries form objects that are dropped or that is dislodged or falls off shelves, equipment or the building itself.
* Walking into injuries: It may be funny when the Three Stooges do it, but at work, walking into concrete, glass, metal or other hard objects can result in broken bones, cuts and other types of serious trauma.
* Vehicle accidents: This includes accidents that occur when employees are driving as part of their jobs.
* Machine and equipment entanglement: These are most common in factories and manufacturing plants where heavy machinery and processing equipment are in use.
* Repetitive motion injuries: Carpal tunnel syndrome is probably the most familiar of these injuries, but other injuries can occur among employees who repeat the same motion over and over again throughout the day.
* Injuries due to violent acts: The number 10 cause of workers comp injuries, most violent acts occur following arguments.

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