Liberty Mutual’s Top 10 Causes of Work Place Injuries

By Denise Johnson | January 14, 2015 Claims Journal

Overexertion and falls account for more than $25 billion in workers compensation costs in the U.S., according to Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s 2014 Workplace Safety Index.
In its 15th year, the annual ranking of top 10 causes of serious, nonfatal workplace injuries is based on the company’s workers’ compensation claims data and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance.
The research institute examined 2012 claims data (the most recent available) for injuries lasting six or more days and ranked the injuries by total workers compensation costs.
10 Leading Causes and Direct Costs of Workplace Injuries in 2012:
1. Overexertion $15.1B 25.3%
2. Falls on same level $9.19B 15.4%
3. Struck by object or equipment $5.3B 8.9%
4. Falls to lower level $5.12B 8.6%
5. Other exertions or bodily reactions $4.27B 7.2%
6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle $3.18B 5.3%
7. Slip or trip without fall $2.17B 3.6%
8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects $2.1B 3.5%
9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks $1.84B 3.1%
10. Struck against object or equipment $1.76B 2.9%
Overexertion
The leading cause of injury on the list, overexertion, was typically related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing. Other exertions, which came in at number five, includes injuries due to bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, stepping, kneeling, sitting, standing or walking.
According to statistics compiled by the City of Denver, 311 overexertion claims were reported by employees in 2013. Injuries most often occurred as a result of holding, carrying or lifting.
Falls
Recently, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America and United Heartland reported that close to a third of all Midwestern workers’ comp claims with lost time were due to slip and falls on ice and snow.
According to the insurers, winter-related slip and fall claims doubled between 2013 and 2014.
The top five states were:
1. Indiana – 37 percent
2. Wisconsin – 33 percent
3. Michigan – 32 percent
4. Illinois – 32 percent
5. Minnesota – 29 percent
Road deaths
According to the BLS, there were 105 worker deaths at road construction sites in 2013. Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and California were the top ranking states for roadway worker deaths. The top cause (69 percent) were pedestrian workers killed by motor vehicles.
In 2013, 63 percent of occupational fatalities in work zones were to the following occupations: construction laborers, highway maintenance workers, heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers, first-line supervisors of construction an extraction workers and construction equipment operators.
Private sector construction – primarily heavy/civil engineering construction and specialty trades contractors – accounted for 60 percent of worker fatal injuries in work zones.
Service producing industries in the private sector, such as the transportation and warehousing industry and the administrative and support services industry, accounted for an additional 27 percent of worker deaths in work zones. Ten percent of workers fatally injured in work zones were in the government sector.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, worker deaths in America are down. In 1970, there were on average 38 worker deaths a day and in 2012, the figure was down to 12 deaths a day. OSHA reports workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have declined by 67 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled.

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GM Recalls Will Not Hurt Its Profitability

The Detroit Free Press (1/14, Gardner, 974K) reports that GM CEO Mary Barra told analysts said that the company expects higher profitability in every region during 2015. The article reports that GM CFO Chuck Stevens said that while the company may announce more recalls over the next few years, “the cost per recall should fall, partly because the company can respond faster.” The Free Press reports that the company will spend between $400 million and $600 million on the compensation fund related to the faulty ignition switches, but the exact figures will not be released until later in the year.
Bloomberg (1/15, 2.95M) reports that Barra spoke on the changes the company made to its recall process, saying that the faulty ignition switch defect was ignored because “people had a different view of stalling,” treating it as a “customer satisfaction issue” instead of a safety issue. She noted, “a series of mistakes were made.”

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CONGRESS ENDANGERS TRUCKERS AND DRIVING PUBLIC BY RELAXING REST RULES

Congress rolled back safety rules aimed at ensuring truck drivers get enough rest. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and other safety advocates strongly opposed the plan.

The bill that passed suspended rules the Transportation Department implemented last year, which required drivers, after working 70 hours over eight days, to rest for 34 hours before beginning another work week. The rules had also required that the rest period include two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The amendment suspends these rules until Oct. 1, 2015.

My firm handles personal injury cases involving large trucks. Trucker fatigue is a tremendous safety problem all across the U.S. This issue gained a lot of attention when the Wal-Mart Store’s tractor-trailer hit a limousine carrying comedian Tracy Morgan. The trucker in that incident had been awake for at least 24 hours, according to a police report. He was nearing the end of a 14-hour work shift. Secretary Foxx had tried to convince Congress to do the right thing by sending a letter to senior members of the Senate and House appropriations committees who were considering the year-end spending plan. The letter said:

The evidence clearly shows that truck drivers are better rested and more alert after two nights of sleep than one night, and that unending 80-hour work weeks lead to driver fatigue and compromise highway safety.

Secretary Foxx was not successful in trying to convince Congress to reject language in the Amendment that suspends regulations that require two overnight rest periods between trucker work weeks. The regulations also curtail practices that allowed up to 82 hours of work a week. The following is an examination of what the Senate amendment has done:

Rising Rate

The provision to delay elements of the agency’s rule was in a Senate version of the annual spending bill for transportation programs and was then added to the year-end omnibus bill being worked out by House and Senate appropriators by the Amendment, sponsored by Senator Collins.

Truck crashes caused 3,912 deaths in 2012, and the fatal-crash rate increased each year from 2009 through 2012, reversing a five-year trend. The hours-of-service regulation was expected to prevent 1,400 truck crashes a year, saving 19 lives and avoiding 560 injuries.

Public Citizen reports that every year, 4,000 people are killed and more than 100,000 are injured in crashes involving trucks. Truck crashes cost the American people and our economy S99 billion annually. Nearly half of all truck drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous year, according to a 2006 study.

Long Weeks

The trucking rules are needed because the industry has been abusing previous regulations to force truckers to drive as much as 82 hours a week. My long-time friend Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, the Washington-based watchdog group, had this to say:

No one can drive 82 hours in a seven or eight-day period and not be tired. Truckers don’t get enough rest. These provisions ensure they get a little more.

Nighttime Rest

Senator Collins’ provision suspends a mandatory second nighttime rest period while the agency studies whether the regulation has forced more drivers to operate during daytime hours, when there is more traffic congestion and crash risk. It doesn’t take a study to find out that which common sense and available data from highway crashes already tell us and that is a fatigued truck driver is a safety hazard.

Sadly, Congress yielded to the intense pressure from the trucking industry instead of doing the right thing and protecting folks on our highways. Increasing safety on our highways should be a top priority in Congress. It makes absolutely no sense from a safety perspective to do something that would put innocent folks on our highway at risk of death or serious injury. But that’s exactly what members of the House and Senate have done.

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DEATHS FROM LARGE TRUCK CRASHES INCREASE FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW

The number of people who were killed in large-truck crashes increased for the fourth straight year, bucking a trend of overall improvement in U.S. highway safety. Fatalities rose to 3,964 people in 2013, which includes truckers, pedestrians and the occupants of vehicles that collided with the big rigs, the U.S. Transportation Department stated last month in its annual traffic-injury report That’s up 0.5 percent from 2012, even though highway deaths involving all types of vehicles fell 3.1 percent to 32,719.

Regulators said new federal standards requiring stability-control technology to prevent rollovers, and future rules that may require stronger underride guards on the backs of semi-trailer can help reverse the trend. David Friedman, the Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told the media:

We do know tired truckers are a risk on our roads. Any effort to reduce the number of people who are tired or drowsy on the road can have an impact.

Interestingly, the report was issued just a week after Congress suspended part of it set of regulations intended to ensure truckers get adequate rest. Lawmakers targeted a portion of the rule closing a loophole that kept some drivers from working 82 hours over eight days. That provision won’t be enforced for at least a year as regulators conduct research to see if it had an unintended effect of forcing more trucks onto the road during rush hours. Federal regulators will monitor whether the new policy affects the fatality count. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated:

The hours-of service rule is a critically important rule. Critical pieces of it have now been changed.

While the overall state of highway safety may be improving, and hopefully it is, there are far too many deaths and serious injuries occurring each month. Besides the decline in all kinds of traffic deaths in 2013, the year tied an all-time record for the lowest fatality rate-1.1 people were killed for every 100 million vehicle-miles traveled.

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More than 20% of Fatal Crashes Involve Tired Drivers

Truck driver fatigue is a major problem. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows that more than one in five fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. These results seem to confirm what safety experts have long suspected: the prevalence of drowsy driving is much greater than official statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) currently indicate.

AAA has urged drivers to recognize warning signs of driver fatigue and take action to avoid tragedy. President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Peter Kissinger. gave this timely warning:

This new research further confirms that drowsy driving is a serious traffic safety problem. Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel.

The report also found that tired driving crashes, a mainstay in recent headlines, are not without consequence. One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver result in injuries and more than 6,000 fatigue-related crashes each year result in at least one death.

Previous research from the AAA Foundation showed that young adult drivers, ages 19-24, are the most likely to admit to driving while drowsy, with 33 percent reporting doing so in the last month. By contrast, the oldest drivers (ages 75+) and the youngest (ages 16-18) were the least likely to report the same offense. Kissinger also said:

Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month. Like other impairments. driving while drowsy is not without risk. AAA urges drivers to understand the warning signs of drowsy driving. These warning signs are:

• The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;
• Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;
• Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;
• Feeling as though your head is very heavy;
• Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;
• Yawning repeatedly;
• Accidentally tailgating other vehicles; and
• Missing traffic signs.

When faced with fatigue, AAA recommends that drivers find a safe place to pull over if experiencing any of the drowsy driving symptoms. To remain alert and be safer behind the wheel, AAA suggests:

• Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) especially the night before a long drive;
• Drive at times when you are normally awake;
• Schedule a break every two hours or ever) 100 miles;
• Avoid heavy foods;
• Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving;
• Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment; and
• Consult with a sleep specialist or other medical professional if you have trouble getting enough rest or are chronically fatigued.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 14,268 crashes that occurred in years 2009-2013 in which at least one vehicle was towed from the scene. AAA highlighted the risks of drowsy driving in support of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, which was November 2-9. For more information about fatigued driving, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s drowsy driving website at www.DrowsyDriving.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for¬profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Ford Recalls 13,500 Lincoln MKC Vehicles

CNN’s Money (1/7, Isidore) reports online that Ford has issued a recall on roughly “13,500 2015 Lincoln MKC because drivers are shutting the vehicle off by mistake.” According to the article, Ford said that motorists are mistakenly touching the vehicle’s “push-button ignition button while the car is driving.” The report notes that one vehicle owner “wrote to federal safety regulators” that a passenger had “mistakenly pushed the on-off button and that the car came to a sudden halt.

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US seizes $18 million from accounts of compounding pharmacy.

The AP (1/7) reports from Boston that Federal authorities have seized more than $18 million “from the owners of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy at the center of a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people nationwide.” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the funds “were seized from 13 different financial institutions as a result of seizure warrants unsealed Tuesday.” The AP notes that about $16.8 million “was frozen in accounts connected to husband-and-wife Douglas and Carla Conigliaro of Dedham.” Carla Conigliaro “was a majority shareholder at the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center in Framingham,” and the Conigliaros “have been charged with transferring assets following the outbreak, which was traced to tainted steroid injections made by the company.”
The Boston Globe (1/7, Andersen, 1.78M) reports that Thomas Sobol, “a lawyer representing victims of the outbreak, lauded the government for the asset seizures. ‘Our position from square one has been that the first priority of any recovery from the Cadden and Conigliaro families should [be] the victims of the NECC tragedy,’ Sobol wrote in an e-mail. ‘Every indication seems to show that the Department of Justice, under the leadership of US attorney Ortiz, shares this goal. Since it appears this development adds to the funds already set aside, this is an excellent development. Well done, DOJ.’” The Globe notes that Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for Ortiz, “said in an e-mail that it is premature to discuss the future of the funds. ‘The government has restrained the funds pending litigation,’ she wrote in an e-mail. ‘Until the litigation is complete, we cannot say with certainty how the funds will be disseminated,’ DiIorio-Sterling wrote.”

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Auto Recalls May Rise in 2015 According to NHTSA Chief

Bloomberg News (1/7, Plungis, 1.94M) reports NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters this week that “public attention on auto-safety defects likely means” that recalls this year in the US will surpass the record last year of over 60 million vehicles. According to the article, Rosekind said that improving the way the NHTSA “tracks potential defects and automakers recall cars will be a top priority.” Rosekind also stated that regulators have to make sure safety problems are addressed, the report notes.
Reuters (1/7, Rucker, Klayman) quotes Rosekind as saying, “I would expect that we will actually see an increase in recalls” in 2015. He added, “This is one of those cases where more recalls could actually mean the system is working better.”
Detroit News (1/7, Shepardson, 504K) reports Rosekind said he plans to “seek new authority and additional positions” for the NHTSA, “because it’s underfunded and there’s room for improvement.” Rosekind is quoted as saying, “There is no question that this is an agency that is under-resourced.” However, the article notes that Rosekind declined to comment on “how many additional people he needs.” Meanwhile, Automotive News (1/7, Beene, 181K) reports Rosekind said that improving the agency’s “vehicle defect analysis and recall system” is a top priority. According to the article, Rosekind said the NHTSA is “evaluating its entire recall infrastructure to find improvements.”

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Woman from Georgia Sues Mega Bus Over Crash

Georgia woman files suit in Indiana Megabus crash

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Atlanta Bound Mega Bus Sidelined By Police

Atlanta-bound Megabus ordered off the road – Atlanta Business Chronicle

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