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.
Workplace injuries can have a host of negative consequences – for both employers and employees. Companies may face decreased work morale, reduced worker productivity, increased insurance rates, and workers’ comp claims. The sick or injured employee may have a difficult recovery, extended time off work, reduced income, and even social embarrassment due to their injury.
Employers must do their best to ensure a safe and productive work environment, while employees should always be extra vigilant and careful in performing daily tasks.
Avoid risks by being aware of these common causes of work injuries and illnesses.
Most Common Workplace Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Slips, Trips, and Falls
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
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
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
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
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.
If your tasks push you beyond a reasonable limit to stay on top of your workload, you may be subject to physical and/or mental exhaustion. This may lead to impaired judgment, slower reflexes when operating machinery, and delayed response in emergency situations.
Furniture that is not secured properly, or objects that are in dangerous locations put workers at risk. Bookcases can fall from too much weight, desks can topple during earthquakes, or bumping into an object may cause many other items to fall.
Lack of warning around hazardous materials can cause sickness for employees who are not wearing the proper protective gear. Companies must make protective clothing, eye wear, and gloves mandatory for all employees who will be around chemicals or other toxic substances. Slip-ups may lead to burns, explosions, blindness, and other traumatic injuries.
All employees and managers must stay alert when it comes to potentially violent situations at work. Do not let arguments between coworkers go unresolved – especially when it comes to sexual harassment or assault accusations.
Top 4 Types of Construction Accidents
If you work in construction, you understand that getting hurt goes with the territory. According to OSHA, four types of work accidents were responsible for the majority of construction-related deaths in 2011:
- Being struck by an object
- Getting caught in between machinery
Construction accidents don’t always result in fatalities, however. There are also a high number of construction accidents that cause common workplace injuries.
How Common are Construction Accidents?
In California alone, nearly 4,000 people were injured in a construction accident and missed work because of their injuries in 2011. Most construction accidents occurred in three areas:
- Construction of buildings
- Heavy and civil engineering construction
- Specialty trade contractors
Although injuries and construction work seem to go hand in hand, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Injured workers are protected by the law – but you have to exercise your rights in order to get the compensation you deserve.
Most construction companies have insurance to cover on-site injuries. Their insurance companies work with a network of medical practitioners that you may be instructed to see. The problem is insurance companies are interested in one thing: settling for the least amount of money as possible. Oftentimes that means you’ll get denied for the medical care you really need and offered far less financial compensation than you legally deserve.
Unlike insurance companies that want to settle for the least amount, a lawyer can help you get the most out of your injury claim. This is true even for 3rd party contract workers, who may be able to file a claim against the contractor, the contractee and the subcontractor.
What to do After a Construction Accident
- Report your injury to your employer or contractor.
- Get medical attention, whether or not you feel pain.
- Talk to a lawyer right away.
We know that a work accident can happen at any time. That’s why we’re here to help you 24/7, 365 days a year. Don’t guess whether you should hire an attorney or not. Get answers today.