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Five Leading Causes of Workplace Injury

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Every year since 1999, Liberty Mutual Insurance conducts research on the leading causes of workplace injury and issues an annual report. Its data is compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance, and the injury definitions used are those developed by the BLS. The following top five causes of work-related injury presented here are based on the 2010 report.


The leading cause of workplace injury, according to Liberty Mutual, is overexertion. This category includes injuries that result from strenuous pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, holding or throwing on the job. Overexertion has consistently appeared in Liberty Mutual's top five causes of workplace injury, accounting for about one in every four workplace injuries, and costs business over $13 billion annually in direct costs.


Liberty Mutual distinguishes between injuries resulting from falling to a surface on the same level and falling to a surface at a lower level. Combined, falling accounts for about 25 percent of workplace injuries, with falling on the same level, the larger category of the two, account for about 15 percent alone. Combined, workplace injuries caused by falling cost business almost $14 billion in direct costs. Falling on same level is one of the fastest growing injury cause categories, according to Liberty Mutual's data.

Bodily Reaction

The third most common cause of workplace injury is those which result from free bodily motion, such as standing, sitting, bending, slipping, tripping, reaching or climbing. These incidents do not involve falling, but injurious strain to the body caused by the motion itself. This category of injuries, called bodily reaction, accounts for about 10 percent of all workplace injuries and costs businesses over $5 billion in direct costs annually.

Struck By Object

Another leading cause of workplace injury is being struck by an object. Though the seriousness of injury resulting from this cause can vary significantly, combined they account for about 10 percent of all workplace injuries and cost business over $5 billion. A related category, struck against object, involves injuries caused by workers walking into walls or doors and other similar incidents. Struck against object injuries represent about 4 percent of workplace injuries. Being caught in or compressed by an object separately accounts for another 4 percent.


Liberty Mutual lists several other prevalent causes of workplace injury. These include highway accidents, assault, and stress and strain caused by repetitive motions. Injuries caused by repetitive motion are probably among the most preventable workplace injuries, which may explain why there has been a dramatic decline in this type of injury through 2008, the latest data available for the 2010 report. Work-related highway accidents have also been in decline.