New Workers Account for Third of Industrial Injuries

Employees who have been on the job for less than a year account for one-third of workers’ compensation claims, according to a new report.

Injuries suffered by new workers in their first year on the job account for nearly 7 million missed workdays a year due to injury, according to the “2023 Injury Impact Report” by The Travelers Companies, which examined more than 1.2 million workers’ comp claims from 2016 to 2020. The report found that time on the job and an employee’s age were the main drivers of both workplace injury frequency and the cost of those claims.

The findings should serve as a reminder that when employers take on new workers they put a premium on safety that includes proper training and supervision. As well, employers need to put a premium on safety for their aging workers, who may be near or even past retirement age, as many Americans are staying on the job longer.

Workers between the age of 35 and 49 account for 31% of all injuries, the highest of all groups. Workers aged 50 to 59 account for another 25% and those 60 and older, 13%.

Additionally, the cost of claims increases the older the workers get, with injury claims for employees aged 60 or older costing about 140% more than those of workers aged 18 to 24.

Employees in their first year on a job, regardless of their age or industry experience, account for 34% of all claims. 

With those findings in mind, here are some workplace safety tips for new and aging workers.

New workers

Workplace safety experts recommend that companies implement comprehensive new-employee safety training programs based on best practices in workplace safety to prevent injuries and keep costs in check.

Training should be specific for the tasks they perform, as well as general for other work areas they may be exposed to on the job.

Training — Before they even start working, they should be trained on safety, and shown how to complete their tasks and what not to do. Employees should repeat the procedures or tasks until you feel confident they can do their job safely.

Conduct regular follow-up training as they are learning the ropes in the job. Encourage them to ask questions and drum home the importance of not taking risks or shortcuts. They should know they won’t be reprimanded for asking for help if they need it or have concerns about performing a task on their own.

Provide a clear safety policy — All of your safety policies should be put on paper and distributed to each new employee. You should have them read it thoroughly and sign off after having done so. You should go over the information in the policy in training as well, in order to reinforce it. 

Hazard identification — Employees should be encouraged to identify hazards and report any concerns to management. Don’t reprimand an employee who speaks up about a possible hazard.

Older workers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends the following to help aging workers:

  • Give workers a say in their schedule, work conditions, work organization, work location and tasks.
  • Match tasks to abilities. Use self-paced work, self-directed rest breaks and less-repetitive tasks.
  • Rotate job functions. Jobs that require repetitive physical activity can be hard on the body, and this is especially true for older workers. Rotating job functions to exercise different muscles and reduce stress on overused muscles can help older workers maintain productivity.

    Rotate job functions among workers to ensure that older employees are able to perform their duties safely.
  • Provide and design ergo-friendly work environments. This includes workstations, tools, floor surfaces, adjustable seating, better illumination where needed, and screens and surfaces with less glare.
  • Provide health promotion and lifestyle interventions, including physical activity, healthy meal options, tobacco cessation assistance, risk-factor reduction and screenings, coaching, and on-site medical care.
  • Require aging workforce management skills training for supervisors. Include a focus on the most effective ways to manage a multigenerational workplace.

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