LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Email

2021 Workplace Safety Index: the top 10 causes of disabling injuries

2021 Workplace Safety Index: the top 10 causes of disabling injuries

From back injuries to broken bones, the top 10 causes of workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $1 billion a week.

Workplace injuries are not limited to high-risk industries such as manufacturing and construction. Disabling injuries can occur on any job, making workplace safety a top concern for employers.

The 2021 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index (WSI) compiles the 10 causes of the most serious disabling workplace injuries – those that caused employees to miss work for more than five days – and ranks them by direct cost to employers based on medical and lost-wage expenses.


The top 10 causes of disabling workplace injuries

Disabling workplace injuries cost businesses more than $58 billion every year.

The first step in protecting your business and workforce is knowing how serious injuries happen.


Download PDF

1. Handling objects1

Cost per year: $13.30B

Watch for: heavy boxes


2. Falls on the same level

Cost per year: $10.58B

Watch for: wet floors

3. Falls to lower level

Cost per year: $6.26B

Watch for: wobbly ladders


4. Being hit by objects2

Cost per year: $5.61B

Watch for: falling objects

5. Awkward postures3

Cost per year: $4.71B

Watch for: stepping down from a vehicle


6. Vehicle crashes4

Cost per year: $3.16B

Watch for: distracted drivers

7. Slip or trip without fall

Cost per year: $2.52B

Watch for: slippery or uneven walkways


8. Colliding with objects or equipment5

Cost per year: $2.46B

Watch for: fixed objects in the work or workspace

9. Caught in equipment or machines6

Cost per year: $2.01B

Watch for: moving/rotating machinery parts


10. Repetitive motions involving microtasks

Cost per year: $1.66B

Watch for: hand- and shoulder-intensive work

Industry risk exposures: What our data shows

Some causes of serious injuries are directly related to specific industries. For the third consecutive year, we’ve expanded the WSI to include eight industry-specific reports. Drill deeper into the costliest causes of injuries in the following industries:

Creating a safer workplace is good for employees and your business’ bottom line. Partner with your insurance broker and carrier to learn how to identify potential workplace injuries, and the first steps to better mitigate your business’ exposure to risks.

Study methodology: the annual Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index is based on information from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI). BLS non-fatal injury data are analyzed with the Liberty Mutual data to determine which events caused employees to miss more than five days of work, and then to rank those events by workers compensation costs, which are then scaled to the NASI total cost. To capture accurate injury cost data, each index is based on data three years prior. Accordingly, the 2021 index reflects 2018 data.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Liberty Mutual’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Liberty Mutual is not endorsing them.