PT Classroom - Top Five Work Related Injuries ׀ by Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE


Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE is the continuing education director and software developer for OccuPro. OccuPro has provided private practices with industrial rehab software and continuing education for 10 years. Jim has helped thousands of private practice physical therapy clinics implement high level return-to-work industrial rehab programs. OccuPro’s web based software application is a full return to work testing system and all of OccuPro’s courses can be taken Live in Person or through highly interactive Live Webcast technology. For more information feel free to visit, contact OccuPro at 866-470-4440, or e-mail Jim at

Top Five Work Related Injuries

In 2012 workplace injuries accounted for $60 billion in direct medical cost. Of this, ergonomic related injuries were 32.5% of this cost or a total direct medical cost of $20.4 billion dollars. Wow, $20.4 billion in ergonomic related injuries. Yes, billion with a B!

What is interesting about this cost in 2012 is that this was a year where the economy in the United States continued to struggle. In early 2015 the economy continues to show an upswing. Companies re hiring again and if we do not get this under control I wonder when the “B” turns into a T for trillion?

This all translates to companies searching for prevention services. As they begin hiring they are concerned with hiring an employee that enters employment with a pre-existing impairment. These same employers are also looking to implement ergonomic programs to minimize compensable work related injuries.

Every year the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for safety puts out the Workplace Safety Index. This year’s index shows the top 5 work related injuries and they include:
1. Overexertion involving outside source which includes lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying and throwing.
2. Falls on same level
3. Struck by object or equipment
4. Falls to lower level
5. Other exertions or bodily reactions which includes bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, stepping, kneeling, sitting, standing and walking

I am hearing from companies every week. They are looking for solutions to reduce work related injuries. The solutions are not that difficult. The primary solutions on the market in order of how well they work at quickly reducing compensable injuries are as follows:
1. On-Site Injury Prevention services (Preventative services where an ergonomist works with employees that have the early signs of a work related disorder prior to it becoming an OSHA recordable
2. On-Site Rehabilitation (By bringing rehabilitation on-site a company can better keep an eye on their employees and the rehabilitation professional knows exactly what they need to do to rehab the person back to the essential functions)
3. Post Offer Employment Testing (Hire employees that demonstrate the abilities to perform the essential functions of the job)
4. Ergonomic Consultation (Prevent ergonomic related injuries through proactive discovery of ergonomic risk factors or following an injury provide ergonomic changes for job accommodation.)
5. Fit for Duty Testing (Following a work related or non-work related injury make sure that employee is able to perform the essential functions before bringing them back and if they cannot return to their same job then can you accommodate them)
6. Job Accommodation (Employees that are ready to return to work but are returning with an impairment may be able to perform work with a reasonable accommodation)
7. Causation Ergonomic Consultation (Is it really a work related injury? An expert ergonomist seeing if there are or are not risk factors that have a direct correlation with the reported injury)
8. Stretching programs (NO research to support this provides any reduction in compensable injuries)
9. Back Schools/Lifting Classes (No research to support that this service line provides a reduction in compensable injuries)

Which of these should a consultant or company implement to reduce their ergonomic related injuries? Well, start at the top of the list. If a company has the first item on the list then go to the second item and that is the next program they should implement to reduce their compensable ergonomic related injuries.

For more information on OccuPro’s injury reduction services or courses to teach you how to implement these cost saving services contact them at 866-470-4440 or email

Last revised: March 18, 2015
By Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE

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