How Common are Workplace Injuries in the First Year of Employment?

injured worker

Regardless of industry, injuries at the workplace are a common occurrence.  Even employees in seemingly less dangerous positions such as those in an office position can sustain a serious and debilitating injury.  Also, it is perhaps even more dangerous for those new to a job and within their first year of work.  According to a recent study on Workers’ Compensation claims by Travelers, about 35 percent of workplace injuries happen during a worker’s first year on the job.  

Regardless of the worker’s age or experience, it is apparent that newer workers are susceptible to injury.  Workplace injuries lead to millions of lost hours and dollars for both businesses and the average employee.  According to the Travelers study, this may be because many people now are changing jobs and starting new ones.  Regardless of the reason, it stresses the importance of providing detailed training and onboarding programs for all new employees.  

Travelers insurance is the country’s leading Workers’ Compensation carrier, and their recent study analyzed over 1.5 million claims during the years 2015 to 2019.  Their comprehensive findings include important information regarding first-year injury claims:

  • The most common causes for a worker’s first-year injury are overexertion at 27 percent; followed closely behind by slip and falls, 22 percent; struck by an object, 14 percent; cuts and lacerations, six percent; as well as being caught between objects at six percent and vehicle accidents, also at six percent.
  • The most expensive Workers’ Compensation claims are amputations, electric shock, and multiple traumas, accounting for over 26 percent of claim costs.  
  • The industry with the most first-year Workers’ Compensation claims is the restaurant industry, accounting for over 53 percent of all claims and 47 percent of claim costs.  
  • The construction industry is second in first-year claims at almost 50 percent of all claims but accounts for over 52 percent of all claim costs.  
  • First-year injuries were so common over the studied five-year period that they accounted for 37 percent of all injury-related days lost.  That equated to more than six million lost workdays.   
  • Construction workers missed an average of 98 days from injury, which is the most of any industry.  The transportation industry saw an average of 88 lost workdays, and those in service jobs, such as those in engineering or legal firms, missed an average of 69 days.  
  • Dislocation injuries caused an average of 132 days of time away from work, while inflammation injuries caused an average of 82 days.  
  • Strains caused workers to miss an average of 69 days, as well as falls.  Motor vehicle accidents caused an average of 61 days, whereas being struck by an object caused an average of 59 days of lost work.  

It is important to note that the Travelers findings are based on indemnity claims, meaning claims in which the worker did not immediately return to work and the claim incurred medical costs.  

How to Help First-Year Employees Prevent Injury

First-year employees may be more susceptible to injury compared with their more experienced counterparts.  However, there are steps an employer can take to help minimize the chances of injury and make the workplace safer for all employees:

  • The hiring process. When posting available jobs, have potential candidates become familiar with the safety culture you are trying to implement.  Job descriptions should have concise safety expectations and best practices, as well as a strong emphasis on the importance of safety, which can help attract the right candidates for the job.  Background checks and interviews can help vet potential employees who can help embrace and promote your safety culture.  Once the hiring process is done, have safety training begin on the first day, before the new employee starts their new role.  
  • Job safety analysis. A job safety analysis (JSA) is a good tool to use to educate your team about the hazards and risks that are associated with a specific job in the company.  This can help employees understand safety protocols through skill-based training, other than simply watching a safety presentation or video.  
  • Training. It is important that after the initial training of a new employee, the safety training continue.  This is important even for employees who may be new to the company but have experience in their new role, for even experienced workers have an increased risk of injury in their first year.  Regularly scheduled safety training can help workers, regardless of experience, to fully understand the company’s safety procedures.  
  • Accident analysis program. An accident analysis program can be implemented after an accident occurs to help identify the cause of the accident, how often similar accidents occur, and what type of injuries stem from the accident.  Companies can then use an accident analysis program to reduce the risk of similar accidents occurring again.  The program gathers data such as where the accident occurred, the tenure of the employee who was injured, and how often the accident could happen again if there are no improvements made.  The data gathered can also keep safety and training programs up to date.  
  • Support. Even if an employee is no longer in their first year of employment, they are still at risk of injury.  Employers can support all employees by implementing general safety programs that help promote a safe culture company-wide.  

Common Workplace Injuries

A workplace injury can happen to anybody, regardless of the length of their tenure or their experience.  In fact, work injuries are so common that research by the National Safety Council (NSC) found that a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds.  This is the equivalent to 540 injuries per hour, and almost 13,000 injuries per day.  

The most common workplace injuries that result in lost time at work include the following: 

  • Sprains and strains. These are injuries that are most commonly associated with actions such as overexertion and overuse, as they cause injury to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons.  Overexertion includes actions such as lifting, lowering, or bending over.  
  • Chronic pain. Chronic pain, particularly in the back or neck area, is one of the most common injuries and especially affects those that are in an office chair all day.  
  • Cuts and lacerations. These injuries happen to anyone regardless of industry or occupation and can range in severity from minor cuts to serious lacerations.  
  • Concussions and brain injuries. Concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common to those with more physical jobs.  

Repetitive stress is a major concern for all types of jobs, as many careers involve constant movement.  Strains and sprains are common when it comes to repetitive stress but could also happen from direct trauma as well.  However, the majority of injuries occur from overexertion or repetitive movement.  Some common injuries include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome normally affects office workers, especially those that work with a keyboard for most of the day.  However, other workers, such as those that use their hands and wrists repeatedly, suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, making their jobs difficult to perform.  
  • Inflammation. Inflammation is common to those who perform repetitive movements every day, such as factory workers or restaurant employees.  Some common inflammation injuries include tendinitis or stenosing tenosynovitis, otherwise known as trigger finger.
  • Tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is another type of stress injury that is similar to tendinitis and is very common with workers, especially those who paint, operate machinery, operate tools, weld, or perform medical or dental examinations.      

The Cost of Workplace Injuries

The NSC found that workplace injuries cost more than $170 billion to companies across the United States.  However, the true cost may affect the injured more, as the lost time at work causes a direct loss of wages.  To make sure your Workers’ Compensation claim goes through smoothly and you get the compensation for which you are entitled to receive, consider working with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer.  

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help First-Year Workers Dealing with Injury Claims

If you have been injured at work and need assistance with your Workers’ Compensation claim, reach out to the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of your accident and will fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, ParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.