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Certified Ergonomist Blake McGowan shares the findings of a research paper that calculated the direct burden cost of overexertion injuries in the U.S.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Blake McGowan, and I’m a certified professional ergonomist at Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics).

In 2015, Liberty Mutual Insurance conducted a really nice research paper, and they tried to calculate what the burden labor cost of non-fatal occupational injuries is in the United States. What they found is that there were approximately 58.5 million of those injuries over a 13-year period between 1998 and 2010, and that roughly equates to about 4.5 million injuries per year.

Now, over the duration of that study or that 13-year period, the number one occupational injury was overexertion. And what we mean by overexertion is excessive physical effort, such as lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, or holding objects. These injuries account for approximately 25% of all non-fatal occupational injuries.

Now, one of the most interesting parts of their study and what they found is that the direct burden cost over that 13-year period is 625 billion dollars – yes, billion – and that equates to approximately 1 billion dollars in non-fatal occupational injury costs per week. And remember, about 25% of those costs are related to overexertion injuries.

So, about 250 million dollars a week in direct burden costs are associated with overexertion.

So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line?

Well, the bottom line is, first, overexertion injuries are the top thing. They’re the biggest injury that we need to deal with.

Second, despite all the research that’s been done over the last 13 years and beyond, and all the efforts to promote safe lifting, really nothing has changed. What we need is more effort and commitment by leading companies to address the frequency, as well as the severity and the cost associated with overexertion.

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