5 Key Facts About Workplace Injury Prevention

Bardavon | Injury Prevention

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were millions of non-fatal workplace injuries in the United States in 2021. And every single one of these injuries is associated with direct and indirect costs to the employer. On top of astronomic costs, injuries can also jeopardize employees’ careers and personal lives. This is especially true of the physically intensive labor workforce.

So, what is the answer to the rise in workplace injuries? Effective injury management gets employees back to work at full capacity quickly while reducing costs associated with lengthy recoveries, dodging workers’ comp premiums, medical expenses, and improving productivity.

But even better than managing injuries is the ability to prevent them completely.

Safety-conscious employers spend time ensuring their workers are in environments compliant with safety regulations. Still, even minor ergonomic problems and improper movement habits can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) over time.

Read on as we share five unexpected facts about workplace injuries and prevention. We hope that these truths about workplace injuries will highlight the importance of implementing injury prevention solutions for total avoidance.

There are Millions of Non-Fatal Workplace Injuries Each Year

Private industry employers reported 2.6 million non-fatal workplace injuries or illnesses in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Illnesses spiked in 2020, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, they decreased but remained higher than three years before the pandemic.

While illness rates are recovering from COVID numbers, injury rates are climbing up from their lows during quarantine. Injury rates exceeded 2.5 million in 2019 and dropped by several hundred thousand in 2020. In 2021, injury rates increased as people returned to work.

Workplace injuries are increasing the most in the following industries:

  • Retail trade
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare and social assistance

In private industries, more than a million injuries caused workers to miss at least one day.

Infographic Non-fatal workplace injury

Each Injury Represents Significant Direct Costs

In 2020, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported that the average cost of a workers’ compensation claim was more than $41,000. Cost estimates included medical and indemnity costs caused by injuries (many of which were preventable).   

Many of the most expensive injuries were related to accidents, especially ones that involved a motor vehicle. However, according to the NSC, strains and cumulative injuries exceeded $30,000 in medical and indemnity costs.

These injuries have many causes, including workplace ergonomics, repetitive movements, and worker decision-making. Workplace injury prevention technology can help avoid all of them.

Indirect Costs Double Workplace Injury Expenses (and Then Some!)

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), strain and sprain injuries can cost more than $30,000 in direct costs. These injuries can be caused or exacerbated by unsafe movements or inefficient ergonomics in a workplace or workstation.

Indirect costs related to sprain and strain injuries can more than double the final expenses.

Indirect costs infographic

The costs employers incur with each injury they cover, which are not captured by any system, are known as indirect costs and play a significant role in driving up the claim expenses. 

Indirect costs include:    

  • Wages paid to injured workers during absences   
  • Wage costs associated with work stoppages due to worker injuries   
  • Overtime costs incurred due to worker injuries   
  • Administrative time spent by supervisors, safety personnel, and clerical workers after an injury   
  • Training expenses for a replacement worker
  • Decreased productivity due to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and accommodation of injured employees
  • Cleaning, repairing, and replacing damaged material, machinery, and property costs

Indirect costs are usually not covered by workers’ compensation or other insurance policies, so employers may have to absorb these costs, even if direct costs are covered.

Overexertion injuries infographic

Musculoskeletal Injuries Cause the Most Missed Workdays

According to the National Safety Council, injuries affecting vital joints have the lengthiest median recovery period. Although severe head or back injuries can result in extended periods of absence from work, specific musculoskeletal injuries are more likely to cause longer periods of absence than the usual head or back injury. The longest median days out for a shoulder injury is 28 days; knees can take 18 days.

Joints that bear a lot of load in a worker’s day-to-day tasks are complex, and recovery can be equally complicated. If surgery is necessary, the recovery time is even longer.

Plus, sprains, strains, and tears involving muscles and joints account for 66 percent of overexertion injuries that cause missed workdays.

The Cost to Replace Our Injured Workers is Skyrocketing

Replacing an injured employee can cost their employer six to nine months of the worker’s salary. Many of these costs overlap with the indirect costs of an injury mentioned above, like recruiting, hiring, and training the new employee–but that’s not all.  

Sustaining injuries can hurt employee morale. If they perceive their work environment to be hazardous or believe that they won’t receive proper treatment in case of an injury, they may be inclined to seek employment elsewhere.

And there are many.  

The United States is in a job market where workers have options. There are almost 10 million open positions in the country but only 5.8 million unemployed workers.  

With around 4.2 million more job openings than unemployed workers, workers are more selective. That means it might be more challenging to find the best candidates, and when you do, you may be competing with other companies offering high salaries.  

job openings infographic

How Can an Injury Prevention Program Help? 

Preventing injuries helps tackle some issues related to workplace injury in a few ways. Reducing injury risk and avoiding injuries lowers costs directly: medical expenses, rising work comp premiums, and indirect costs are all avoided.   

Bardavon’s Safety Intelligence Suite prevents injury by proactively detecting risks and elevating movement health. This approach can help keep workers healthy throughout their careers, reducing their need to step away from work because of musculoskeletal wear and tear.  

Finally, showing employees that you are committed to injury prevention communicates that you care about safety in the workplace. Injury prevention programs create a culture around workplace safety that prioritizes healthy movement and attention to detail.  


Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor. Individual Injury Estimator: Background of Cost Estimates | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

NSC Injury Facts. (2023, January 9). Work injuries and illnesses by part of body. Injury Facts. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, November 9). Employer-reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses. 

National Safety Council. (2023, February 2). Workers’ Compensation Costs. NSC Injury Facts. 

Lynchburg Regional Society for Human Resource Management. (2017, October 29). Essential elements of employee retention. Essential Elements of Employee Retention | Lynchburg Regional SHRM. 

Ferguson, S. (2023, May 16). Understanding America’s labor shortage. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

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