According to the 2002 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, employers spent approximately $40.1 billion in 1999 for direct worker compensation costs. This reflects an increase of 3.6% over the year before.
Overexertion represented the leading cause of injury — 5.5% of the total — related to lifting and moving heavy objects. Indirect costs include finding substitute workers, handling litigation, and developing return-to-work programs. Also, thousands of cases are unreported in which employees continue to work with minor back injuries and experience limited productivity as a result.
Jim York, of commercial insurer Zurich Services Corp, analyzed some 2,800 freight carrier claims during the 1998 to 2000 period (Light & Medium Truck, June 2000). According to his study, the average worker compensation costs for pushing/pulling and lifting/bending incidents were $10,175 and $8,989, respectively.
Liftgates on trucks provide a means to reduce both direct and indirect worker compensation costs. Workers can maneuver loading and unloading of heavy products in and out of trucks and trailers a lot easier by using a liftgate, thus reducing the risk of back injury. Multiply the average worker compensation costs by the number of overexertion incidents at a company, and a liftgate quickly pays for itself.
By identifying jobs that require lifting, pushing, and bending, high worker compensation costs can be addressed. Use of liftgates can be implemented into company safety programs after proper training.