Work-related injuries remain a leading cause of injury and death for those who are working, as well as those who have been put out of work due to these injuries.
Injuries from accidents on the job can be costly, not just in terms of medical treatment costs, but also with respect to lost work time and the negative impact on workforce productivity. Here are the 11 most common work-related injuries.
Table of Contents
1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of work-related injuries and death. In fact, motor vehicle accidents account for 24% of all work-related deaths in the United States in 2019.
In particular, those working as drivers have a risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash, truck crash, bus crash, etc. Not only can they result in fatalities, but also serious injuries that cause workers to miss months of work or result in permanent disability.
Meanwhile, workers whose job is around moving vehicles can also have a high risk of injury, such as while driving heavy equipment, using a hoist or crane, loading and unloading vehicles or containers, operating a forklift, controlling traffic at job sites (construction workers), etc.
Employers should make sure that their employees know how to properly use any dangerous equipment or machines, in case an accident were to occur. This can reduce the risk of workers suffering from injuries such as fractures and lacerations.
Employees who drive for work purposes must be trained on correct safety procedures, such as wearing a seatbelt and keeping their eyes on the road at all times.
Employees should not attempt to fix any broken equipment or vehicles while they are in motion, since doing this can distract them from driving.
If an employee is involved in an accident of any type while working, then their employer must provide them with medical treatment and ensure that they do not go back to work until their injuries have healed.
Employees may also be entitled to compensation if they are involved in a vehicle accident at work or on company property, such as the employer’s parking lot. This is why it is important for workers injured in motor vehicle accidents to receive medical treatment as soon as possible, and know their rights.
2. Slips, Trips, and Falls
Additionally, slips, trips, and falls are also leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities. In fact, over half of all nonfatal injuries in the workplace involve some sort of fall, whether on the job or on company property.
Property owners can be held responsible for making sure their properties are kept free from hazards that are likely to cause people to slip, trip, or fall. For example, poor lighting, loose carpets or flimsy rugs, uneven stairs and porches, debris that is not properly stored or disposed of, etc.
Even wet floors can be a hazard, including while mopping lines in walkways where employees must periodically stop what they are doing in order to walk through the line or while going up and downstairs. Employees should be trained on wet floor signs and how to properly clean floors to prevent slipping, which can result in a fall.
In cases where employees must use elevators, they should also be instructed on proper usages, such as when it is okay for them to use the elevator unaccompanied or when they should wait for another employee to accompany them.
Meanwhile, those working at heights should be properly trained and equipped with fall protection gear such as harnesses and helmets before being allowed up on a roof, tower, scaffolding, etc. Employers should also provide nets around open sides to catch workers if they slip and fall.
Finally, those working in wet or humid conditions should be allowed to take breaks in a safe, dry area that is properly ventilated.
Workers can suffer electrocution injuries if exposed to faulty equipment or appliances within the workplace. This includes defective extension cords, and electrical shock, even if the power is turned off.
Employers should regularly inspect all electrical equipment and systems to ensure that they are in proper working order; however, if they are unsure whether something needs repairs, they should contact an electrician for assistance.
4. Overexertion Injuries
Overexertion injuries, which are also known as repetitive motion injuries or cumulative trauma disorders), are a leading cause of construction worker disability and lost work time. In fact, over half of all musculoskeletal disorder cases in the United States are related to overexertion.
Although these types of injuries can happen in any profession, they are more common in jobs that require extensive or repetitive arm and hand movements such as manufacturing, assembly line work, and construction.
Employers should make sure employees use proper work techniques (including posture and body position), take frequent breaks to stretch and move around, avoid wearing loose clothing which can get caught up in machinery, and not wear gloves or loose jewelry while working.
Employees should also be trained on how to lift heavy objects, which includes making sure they are positioned correctly before lifting. For example, by holding the object close to their body and bending at their knees instead of their back. If an employee cannot do this alone, then another person should be brought in to assist with the lift.
If companies have a formal ergonomics program, then they can use it to ensure that their employees are not overexerting themselves and causing unnecessary injuries. However, if they do not have a program in place, then employers should keep track of all musculoskeletal disorders that employees suffer from work-related injuries.
5. Struck by Objects
Getting hit by falling objects, like bricks, tools, and boxes, is another way in which workers can be seriously injured.
Employees should not stand in front of or underneath anything that may fall. They should also make sure parts and equipment are properly secured before using them. Additionally, if employees are injured when something falls on them, then employers should have them checked out by a doctor immediately so the injury can be properly diagnosed.
Another way in which workers are injured is if they are struck by moving objects, such as cars or forklifts. Employers should warn employees of any moving vehicles within the work area, and all entry gates must remain closed to prevent anyone from entering.
Employees should also know how to properly use the equipment they are using, and only allow trained employees who know how to use them safely to operate forklifts.
6. Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments
Getting exposed to harmful substances or environments, such as chemical spills, and polluted water, can also cause work-related injuries, but they are also preventable.
Employers should regularly monitor their workers’ exposure levels to ensure that they are not being overexposed to any dangerous materials. If the employees cannot reduce their exposure levels on their own, then the employer should provide them with personal protective equipment (e.g., safety glasses, gloves, face masks, etc.).
Employees should also be trained on how to properly use any dangerous equipment that they are using, and if working in an environment where they may come into contact with hazardous substances, then employers must ensure that there is a designated area where they can shower and change.
Employees should also know what actions to take if an emergency occurs, such as calling for help or evacuating the premises.
7. Fire and Explosions
A fire or an explosion is another way in which workers can be injured at work. If an employee discovers a fire, he should raise the alarm and try to put it out with water or sand; if this fails, then the worker must evacuate the building.
Employers should also implement measures to prevent fires from breaking out, such as prohibiting smoking in the workplace or storing flammable materials somewhere they cannot cause any damage.
If an employee is involved in a fire incident, his employer should have him assessed by a doctor immediately so that the extent of the injuries can be determined. Workers who are injured in explosions may require extensive medical treatment, even if their injuries do not seem severe at first.
8. Vehicles and Machinery
If a worker’s job requires them to use any form of vehicle or equipment, then employers must ensure that their workers know how to operate it safely before allowing them to do so. Employees should also be trained on the correct way to interact with heavy machineries, such as forklifts, so they do not injure themselves.
Moreover, employers should be able to provide their employees with specialized equipment and safety wear for use in certain jobs. All vehicles and equipment should also be regularly inspected for signs of damage or wear and tear.
If any problems are found, then the employer must repair them as soon as possible. Employees should also not overload vehicles or equipment since doing so can cause accidents.
Employers should follow OSHA regulations in order to protect employees. OSHA is an American organization, but other countries have similar organizations that are charged with protecting employee safety at work.
When operating certain equipment or machinery, an employee could get seriously injured if they become entangled in the machine. If a worker becomes caught in a machine, he must remain calm and not make any sudden movements before alerting his superiors.
If possible, the victim should try to move away from the danger area once he has been freed from the equipment. However, if the machine is still running then he should not move. Instead, he should wait for assistance to arrive.
While waiting, employees can try to use tools or their own hands to free themselves from the machine so long as they are careful not to activate any switches or controls. They can also call for help by yelling loudly so that the machine operator knows that something is wrong.
10. Repetitive Motion
Employees who perform the same task or function over and over again are at risk of suffering from repetitive motion injuries. Although this is one of the most common work-related conditions, it can be prevented by simply changing positions or using another method. Employees should also take regular exercise breaks in order to reduce their chances of getting this type of injury.
11. Violence in the Workplace
It is a sad fact that many employees suffer from violence in the workplace, both physical and sexual in nature. In order to protect their rights, workers should have violence training and sexual harassment training on what they should do if that happens.
If an employee is threatened by a co-worker or an individual who visited their office, he should inform the police immediately. If the same individual is still hanging around the workplace, then employees can ask their superiors to call security.
Employees should also be aware of what they should do if they are attacked or sexually assaulted by an outsider. When reporting such incidents, employees must remember that it is their right to remain anonymous. Otherwise, any information they give could put them in jeopardy.
If an employee is attacked or sexually assaulted at work, then he may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. He must report the incident as soon as possible so that his employer can take action and provide him with any necessary medical treatment. Victims of sexual harassment and assault should also know their rights when receiving their workers’ compensation benefits.
Employees should know their rights when they suffer from a work-related injury. Under the law, workers’ compensation benefits must be provided for employees who get injured while on the job. An employee can file a claim against his employer if he has suffered from an injury, even if it was caused by a fellow employee.
If you suffer injury in any type of on-the-job accident, it is recommended to seek help from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.