Regardless of age or industry experience, 35% of workplace injuries occur during employees' first year on the job, according to the Travelers 2022 Injury Impact Report, which analyzed more than 1.5 million workers compensation claims from 2015-2019.
The No. 1 cause of first-year injuries was overexertion, with 27% of claims. Slips, trips and falls followed at 22%. Being struck by an object (14%); cuts and punctures (6%); being caught in or between objects (6%); and motor vehicle accidents (6%) completed the data set.
The most common injuries caused by those incidents among first-year workers include strains and sprains (38%), fractures (13%), contusions (9%), cuts and puncture wounds (6%), inflammation (6%) and dislocations (6%). The most expensive resulting injuries—amputations, multiple traumas, electric shocks and dislocations—account for a mere 8% of total claims but 26% of total claim costs.
Across all employees and every industry, overexertion still leads as an injury cause at 29%. Slips, trips and falls still came in second at 23%; and being struck by an object in third at 14%. However, motor vehicle accidents took fourth place at only 5% among all employees.
Strains and sprains still lead the list of resulting injuries among all workers at 38%, followed by fractures (13%), contusions (8%), inflammation (7%), dislocations (7%) and cuts and puncture wounds (5%).
The restaurant industry is the most dangerous during the first year of employment, according to the report. More than half (53%) of the restaurant industry's workers comp claims come from workers in their first year on the job—representing 47% of the industry's total claims costs.
In a close second, 48% of claims in the construction industry come from first-year workers—and those claims account for 52% of total claims costs. In the services industry, which includes legal, engineering and accounting firms, first-year workers account for 43% of claims and 38% of claim costs. First-year workers in the transportation industry account for 39% of claims and 41% of claim costs.
First-year injuries led to more than 6 million lost workdays over the five-year study, which is 37% of all lost days. Among all injured workers over the same period, construction workers miss the most workdays at an average of 98. Employees in transportation miss the second-most days on average at 88, followed by an average of 69 days for those in the service industry.
“Our data underscores the importance of comprehensive onboarding and training programs for employees, particularly as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and see many workers starting new jobs," said Chris Hayes, assistant vice president, Travelers risk control—workers compensation and transportation. “While new employees are among the most vulnerable, many injuries sustained by employees of any tenure can often be prevented if the proper safety measures are in place."
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.