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First Year Employees Record Highest Injury Rates


Over a third of first-year workers experience a work-related injury. Experts believe that lack of training and being a novice in their line of work are significant risk factors for workplace injury. Comprehensive training for first-year workers is viewed as more important than ever before as U.S. workers continue to shift jobs and age at a significant pace. From 2000-to 2021, workers over 55 years of age have increased by 10% in the U.S. workforce. Factors such as the great resignation also play a role as companies scramble for workers to meet economic demands. 


The study analyzed more than  1.5 million workers’ compensation claims between 2015-2019 from various industries and business sizes. Results were based only on indemnity claims where injured workers could not return to work immediately and encountered medical costs. This is the second edition of the research which was initially published in 2016. 


Sectors Most At Risk

Restaurants, Construction, General Services, and Transportation sectors are most at risk of first-year worker injuries. The Restaurant industry reports that 53% of overall claims and 47% of claims costs were due to injured workers during their first year. Construction sectors came in as a close second, with 48% of claims coming from first-year workers, representing 52% of total claim costs for the industry. 


Frequent Injuries

Common causes of injuries in the first year included overexertion, representing 27% of claims; followed by slips, trips, and falls (22%), being struck by an object (14%), cuts and punctures (6%), being caught in or between objects (6%), and motor vehicle accidents (6%). Overall, strains and sprains represented the most frequent injury, proceeded by fractures (13%) and contusions (9%). The most expensive injuries represented 8% of claims and comprised of amputations, multiple traumas, electric shocks, and dislocations. Lower back injuries were the most recurrent injury, followed by shoulders and knees. Over the last five years, first-year worker injuries led to more than 6 million lost workdays, representing 37% of all lost days. Of all worker injuries over the same period, construction workers, on average, missed the most workdays due to an injury, proceeded by employees in the transportation sector.


Comprehensive Training

The report’s surprising findings show the urgent need for thorough training and innovative onboarding methods to protect against potential injury. As the thick of the covid-19 pandemic passed, a new economy is emerging and, with it, a different workforce. According to the latest numbers, the effects of the great resignation are shifting employees back and forth between jobs as 44% of all workers are considering a career change. With such a significant workforce shift, employers may want to review or upgrade their new hire integration processes to mitigate injury risk and enhance the overall career transition. 


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