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The Most Common Workplace Injuries - Everything You Need To Know

30 January 2023

Workplaces experience hundreds of thousands of accidents every year. Even though the rate of injuries and fatality due to workplace accidents and mishaps has decreased over the years, the number still remains quite high. That is why it is so important for businesses to ensure proper measures are set up that can help reduce these incidents.

In this guide, we have listed down some of the most common and preventable causes of workplace injuries and how to avoid them.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

No matter what kind of place you work at, you are likely to encounter surfaces or obstacles that can make you slip and trip and get injured. Most businesses think about slip and fall accidents as they fall under premise liability and are one of the biggest causes of lawsuits.

However, these accidents impact employees and customers as well. According to the BLS, about 22% of slip-and-fall accidents cause employees to miss a month of work. Slip and fall accidents are attributed to spillage of fluids on the floor, uneven surfaces, icy sidewalks, objects left on pathways, and unsecured rugs.

High-risk industries like the construction industry see a high rate of slip and fall injuries. Non-fatal injuries can lead to sprains, strained muscles, bone fractures, concussions, cuts and lacerations, and more.

Measures to Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls

Businesses can reduce the incidents of slip, trip, and fall accidents by taking the following measures:

Cleaning spills immediately on discovery

Placing "wet floor" signs after mopping the floor

Adding anti-slip traction tape on high-traffic pathways

Installing handrails on steps

Encouraging employees to use non-skid soles on their shoes

Repetitive Strain Injury and Bodily Exertion

A repetitive strain injury is a very common workplace injury, more so because many employees do not take it completely seriously. This problem is prevalent in not just people who have desk jobs but in people in any type of occupation that demands repeated motion of joints and muscles or holding a single position for a prolonged period of time. If left untreated, the effect of RSI can be serious.

Some of the most common causes of bodily exertion may be due to using a computer at a desk, using tools on construction sites, moving patients, standing on assembly lines, and lifting or loading/ unloading supplies.

Measures to Avoid RSI and Bodily Exertion

A backache or a sore wrist may not seem like a big deal for many, but in extreme cases, it may require surgery and a long rehabilitation time. Although most companies have these injuries covered under workers' compensation insurance, it still should be a priority for companies to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Workplaces can prevent overexertion injuries by:

Investing in comfortable and ergonomic seats, like the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair, and desk to prevent back, neck, and wrist aches.

Training employees on how to lift heavy weights with the help of knees

Making it compulsory to wear back braces, lifting aids, and harnesses

Encouraging frequent breaks for employees who remain in a single position for a long period of time

Rotating employee tasks to provide a break in activities that require repetitive motion

Contact with Falling Objects and Improper Use of Equipment

According to OSHA, 75% of all contact work-related fatalities involved heavy tools or equipment. As such, industries like construction, manufacturing, and agriculture, are at particularly high risk.

Injuries caused by falling objects can lead to a wide variety of injuries and in extreme cases, even death. Injuries attributed to improper use of machinery or equipment can lead to lacerations, cuts, amputations, and death.

Some of the injuries may be attributed to a heavy tool falling on a person's head, a golf cart hitting a groundskeeper, a falling ceiling or wall crushing the workers, not wearing proper safety gear when operating machinery, not following proper safety protocols, medical professionals being stuck by needles, and many more.

Measures to Avoid Contact with Falling Object and Other Equipment

The main cause of these injuries is improper safety training as well as inattention. However, many of these injuries are also accidental. Fortunately, workplaces can reduce these incidents by providing a culture that encourages workplace safety. These may include:

Hiring an industry expert to inspect your safety procedures

Ensuring workers take regular safety trainings

Securing all equipment throughout the day

Ensuring construction workers wear safety gear like harnesses and secure their tools when working at a height

Limit load on motor vehicles to ensure the driver has a clear view

Discipline employees who are following around dangerous equipment and heavy machinery

Transportation-Related Accidents

Transportation-related injuries caused 49,430 cases of non-fatal injuries; however, they resulted in a higher number of deaths than all the above three workplace injuries combined in 2019.

Accidents involving vehicles crashing or slamming into people and objects are quite frequent in workplaces like warehouses and can leave long-lasting repercussions. Hence, it is important for employees to always wear their seatbelts and safety gear and follow safety precautions when working with these vehicles.

Transportation-related accidents are not limited to just electronic guided vehicles in warehouses. They also involve accidents with automobiles, watercraft, airplanes, bikes, railways, and animals.

If you were using the vehicle in the scope of employment, there may be policies that cover injuries. However, if you have been using the vehicle to run a personal errand, then your claim can easily be invalidated.

Measures to Avoid Transportation-Related Accidents

Workplaces can follow various measures to ensure they have reduced the risk of transportation-related accidents. This may include:

Getting the candidate's driving records from the DMV

Providing sufficient training to personnel operating warehouse vehicles like EGVs

Developing a safe driving program that includes policies on seat belt use, use of cellphones and other devices, and substance use

Ensuring the vehicles are maintained on a regular schedule to prevent mechanical issues

Ensuring truck drivers who work long hours take the industry-specified amounts of breaks and sleep

Implementing policies on how to file a report in case of an accident

Exposure to Harmful Substances

Although most businesses do not work with toxic substances, those that involve the use of these chemicals are at an increased risk of eye, skin, lung, and other injuries and illnesses.

You might be thinking that most injuries and illnesses come from inhaling or coming into contact with toxic fumes, pesticides, or cleaning chemicals; however, there are several other things that workers are exposed to. These include exposure to electricity, radiation, extreme heat or extreme cold, oxygen deficiency, changes in water or air pressure, or an increased level of noise.

All of these exposures can either be through a single or a repetitive series of events. However, the end result is often quite serious and results in expensive injuries like burns and electrocution, triggering allergies and asthma, lung diseases, heat stroke, frostbite, and even cancer.

Measures to Avoid Exposure to Harmful Substances

Exposure to harmful substances can lead to a wide range of injuries and hence it makes it tricky for workplaces to avoid all accidents. However, some precautions that the workplace can establish include:

Providing safety goggles, respirators, and gloves when working with or handling hazardous materials

Maintaining excellent ventilation of the zone where there is a danger of fumes building up

Learning how to store chemicals and other harmful substances

Offering ear protection for personnel in areas where there is a risk of sound reaching 85 dBA.

Providing warming shelters for workers who work in extremely cold settings or cooling stations and rest breaks for workers working in very hot settings

Mandating safety gear and the use of insulated equipment in areas with electrical hazards

Workplace Violence and Injuries Caused by Animals

One of the most common incidents of workplace violence is fights at work. Tensions simmer for months until they finally bubble up and result in a physical confrontation.

Workplace violence can lead to nasty injuries like bruises, cuts, fractures, and more. However, these are not the only incidents of violence you may experience at your workplace. Businesses also experience self-harm and suicide. For certain businesses, insect stings and animal bites, tramplings, goring, and mauling are common incidents as well, like if you are working at a zoo or natural resort.

Keep in mind that not all such injuries are insured through workers' compensation benefits. Your company will only typically cover the medical costs when employees are harmed in the course of their employment. Hence, fights between coworkers and self-harm may not be covered.

Measures to Avoid Workplace Violence

The sad fact is that intentional injury by a worker accounts for almost 47 percent of workplace violence incidents. For workplaces, it is important to educate their employees on the warning signs of someone who may become violent. This includes people who have had a bad performance review, exhibit bullying or intimidating behaviors, make comments about self-harm and suicide, make unreasonable demands or threats, have a record of violating company policies, and are unable to easily resolve conflicts.

If you encounter this sort of behavior, workplaces have a duty to protect their employees, clients, and businesses by:

Interacting with the employee and finding out their concerns and complaints

Educating the employees on the repercussion of committing violence in the workplace

Seeking advice from the HR department or a lawyer on what to do

Referring the employee to an employee assistance program, if possible

In case the situation is escalating, call your building security or contact 911

Last Words

Although there are dozens of ways people can get injured at their workplaces, there are several measures that employees can take to avoid preventable harm.

Good training, mandating the use of the right equipment and tools, following the proper safety guidelines, and conducting regular risk assessments can go a long way toward making your workplace safe and healthy.