The 5 Most Common Types of Workplace Injuries and How to Avoid Them

worker fallen off a ladder

Any workplace can be dangerous, even if you are just going into a standard office environment every day. While injuries may differ depending on industry and atmosphere of the job, there are several common workplace injuries that occur across the board. Employers and employees should recognize the warning signs and dangers associated with each injury in an effort to prevent or eliminate future threats.

The 5 Most Common Types of Workplace Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Slips, Trips, and Falls

worker fallen off a ladder

These incidents account for one-third of all personal injuries in the workplace and are the number one cause of workers’ compensation claims. Anyone who has experienced a slip, trip, or fall due to their workplace environment may have suffered a variety of ailments including head and back injuries, broken arms or legs, cuts, sprains, muscle injuries, etc.

In order to prevent these common injuries, clean up spills, wipe off oily surfaces, and get rid of rugs, mats, or flooring that does not have the right amount of traction. Improve lighting, reduce clutter, organize cables and plugs, and keep the workplace neat and clean. These simple tasks can go a long way in saving the company money and reducing accidents. Proper footwear should also be required, and employees should be reminded to take their time and pay attention to where they are going.

Injuries Caused by Machinery

machine cutting metal in a factory

Machinery that is not properly maintained, managed, or operated may cause debilitating injuries. Common occurrences include body parts getting caught in or struck by exposed moving parts, flying objects from machines, and improper usage. This may lead to crushed arms, severed fingers, blindness, or worse. Mechanical hazards typically happen at the point of operation (where the work is being performed) or due to components such as pulleys, malfunctioning belts, loose chains, and other moving parts.

To reduce the risk of injuries caused by machinery, safeguard the operational procedures that go along with each piece of equipment. Ensure proper operator training as well as protective clothing.

Transportation and Vehicle-Related Accidents

overturned truck with a parked fire truck nearby

Employees that work in transportation or around vehicles are at risk of being struck or run over, falling from the vehicle, being hit by objects from the vehicle, and even getting stuck or worse under an overturned vehicle. Industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural companies are especially prone to this category of injuries.

Companies should determine who is at risk, where and when accidents are most likely to occur, and then create prevention measures that focus on workplace design, vehicle/work orientation, and rapid response drills for emergency situations.

Fires and Explosions

aftermath of an explosion from a gas leak

Faulty gas lines, bad pipefitting, and improperly stored materials lead to unexpected fires or explosions. Injuries may include burns, possible disfigurement, and damage to the respiratory system. OSHA recommends following its hazard communication standards as a way to help workers avoid fires and explosion injuries.

Employees should also wear protective equipment and keep material safety data sheets for chemicals handy. A clear evacuation plan, and practicing these drills regularly can go a long way in reducing injuries.

Overexertion and repetitive stress injuries

factory workers pushing a dolly, in motion blur

These injuries can sneak up on employees over time, causing musculoskeletal disorders, which are actually the most costly workplace injuries. Pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing may cause overexertion. These kinds of injuries mean loss of productivity for employers, and back pain alone accounts for about $7.4 billion annually.

Prevent stress related injuries by allowing frequent short breaks, resting, and stretching. In cases where items over 50 pounds need to be moved throughout the day, manual or mechanical lifting equipment should be provided to ease the burden on employees.