FALL 2003

Conclusion: The financial impact of workplace injuries is growing faster than inflation.

Employee injuries cost U.S. businesses nearly $1 billion per week.

Background: The annual study ranks the leading causes of serious on-the-job injuries –

those resulting in an employee missing six or more days from work – based on direct costs – payments to injured employees and their medical care providers.

Findings (based on 2001, the most recent data available):

  • The financial burden of serious work-related injuries and illnesses grew to $45.8 billion in 2001 from $44.2 billion in 2000.

  • The burden grew 13.5 percent between 1998 and 2001, or 4 percent after adjusting for inflation in medical and wage benefits.

  • The top 10 causes of workplace injures in 2001 were:

Injury Cause: Cost: Percent of Total Cost:
Overexertion [1] $12.5 billion 27.3 percent
Falls on Same Level $5.7 billion 12.6 percent
Bodily Reaction [2] $4.7 billion 10.2 percent
Falls To Lower Level $4.1 billion 9.0 percent
Struck by Object [3] $3.9 billion 8.6 percent
Repetitive Motion [4] $2.9 billion 6.3 percent
Highway Incident $2.3 billion 5.1 percent
Struck Against Object [5] $1.9 billion 4.1 percent
Caught in, Compressed by $1.7 billion 3.7 percent
Assaults & Violent Acts $0.4 billion 1.0 percent


  • The top three injury causes (Overexertion, Falls on Same Level and Bodily Reaction):
    • Are the fastest growing of all injury causes, with the cost of each rising 10.7 percent, 17.2 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively, faster than inflation between 1998 and 2001.
    • Represent 50.1 percent of the total costs of serious workplace injuries in 2001, costing about $23 billion a year or $450 million a week.
  • The frequency of serious work-related injuries fell 6 percent between 2000 and 2001, the largest single decline in the four years of the Workplace Safety Index. The number of injuries fell 1.3 percent between 1999 and 2000, and grew 0.2 percent between 1998 and 1999. There were fewer, but more expensive serious work-related injuries in 2001, one reason the total cost of injuries did not decline despite the 6 percent drop in frequency.

Case Study: Improving workplace safety protects a company’s bottom line. For example, Hard Rock Café’s U.S. operation saved almost $400,000 in 2001 and 2002 by reducing workplace injuries faster than the restaurant industry as a whole. In improving safety, Hard Rock successfully addressed some of the leading causes of workplace injuries identified in the Safety Index, including Overexertion and Falls on Same Level.

Methodology: The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety prepares the annualLiberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. The current Workplace Safety Index is based on data from 2001, the latest year for which data is available, and tracks performance since 1998. In developing the Index, researchers apply Liberty Mutual 2001 workers compensation claims cost to the workplace injury frequency information reported by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics for injuries occurring that year. To provide a broader perspective, the relative proportions of each injury type are applied to the national estimates of the cost of workers compensation benefits from the National Academy of Social Insurance, which includes information from a broad range of workers compensation insurance providers.

About Liberty Mutual: Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group is a diversified international group of insurance companies and one of the largest multi-line insurers in the North American property and casualty industry. The group has $14.5 billion in consolidated revenue and ranks 129th among the Fortune 500 largest corporations in the United States. The A.M. Best Company has rated Liberty Mutual “A” (Excellent).

Liberty Mutual has been the leading private provider of workers compensation insurance, programs and services in the United States for more than 65 years. It also provides a wide range of products and services, including: general liability, commercial auto and business property; group disability and life; private passenger auto and homeowners insurance; integrated disability management; individual life insurance and annuities; structured settlements; and international programs.

Liberty Mutual Group employs more than 37,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the world. The company’s web site address is

Richard Angevine
Liberty Mutual
(617) 574-6638

[1] Overexertion - injuries from excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing of an object.

[2] Bodily Reaction - injuries from bending, climbing, slipping or tripping without falling.

[3] Struck by Object - such as a tool falling on a worker from above.

[4] Repetitive Motion - injuries due to repeated stress or strain.

[5] Struck against Object - such as a worker walking into a door frame.