The rate of serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace rose from 2019 to 2020, despite a reduction in the number of injuries overall. According to a study by risk management software company ISN, the rate of workplace serious injuries or fatalities, in Illinois and across the country, was 366 per 100,000 employees in 2019, compared with 429 per 100,000 employees in 2020. ISN published a white paper on the issue during 2022.

Causes of workplace serious injury

The ISN white paper, titled New Insights on Serious Injuries and Fatalities, examined more than 60,000 reported incidents. The top cause of serious injuries or fatalities in the workplace between 2018 and 2020 was contact with equipment or an object. The second and third most common causes were slips, trips and falls and overexertion, respectively. Construction injuries were the most common according to the report, with 42% of construction contractors reporting a serious injury or fatality during 2020. Waste management was the second most dangerous industry with 29% and transportation was third with 9%.

Other relevant factors

The ISN report also broke down whether certain other factors besides the type of industry might play a role. Injuries were more likely during July and August, for example, suggesting that longer work days might be relevant. Additionally, the use of chemicals on site, working at heights and operating commercial vehicles also increased the likelihood of an injury at work.

Factors indicating reduced risk

In addition to examining factors that could increase the risk of workplace injury or death, ISN looked for factors that could reduce these dangers. The study found correlations between increased workplace safety and such activities as having an electrical safety program, having a safe return to work program and developing environmental conservation standards. Another factor that increased safety was encouraging workers to report near-misses and discuss ways to improve.

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