Statistics tell us that serious workplace injuries occur all too often. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than three million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported by private industry employers in 2013.
The most common injuries are random incidents that can happen to any employee at any time. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring a safe work environment, but each employee also has a responsibility to be aware of rules, procedures, and his/her surrounding environment.
Here are the top 10 workplace injuries as reported by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA):
- Physical Exertion – The Bureau of Labor Statistics sites overexertion as the number one cause of workplace injury. It is also one of the most costly types of injury, amounting to over three million in annual benefit costs. Training, oversight, employee diligence, and proper safety equipment all help to reduce this type of injury.
- Slip ‘n Trip – One of the most common causes of workplace injuries: slipping and tripping. These cases are generally based on a claim that the property owner was negligent in allowing a dangerous condition to exist that caused the slip or fall. Things to watch out for: spills, wet floors, ice, broken guard rails, and debris.
- Falling – Injuries related to falling obviously increase when working around rooftops, ladders, platforms, stairs, etc. Weather, condition of equipment and materials, dexterity and a slough other factors all matter. In these scenarios, training, protective gear, maintenance of equipment and employee diligence all help to reduce accidents.
- The Zombie Factor – Each day, many accidents are attributed to people simply walking into walls, doors, windows, glass, tables, chairs, frames etc. Injuries to heads, faces, necks, knees and feel are common results. OSHA has created numerous amounts of standards intended to protect employees from potential hazards. Adherence to these standards, as well as basic awareness is essential in preventing these types of injuries.
- Vehicle Accidents – There are those who drive motorized vehicles for a living (cars, buses, trucks, tractors etc.) and those who work in drive zones (roadway construction). Each group is faced with inherent dangers while on the job. Strict training, licensing, and policies are necessary.
- Falling Objects – Construction zones aren’t the only environments where objects fall from above. Watch out for shelves, hanging objects, levels, stairs, etc. Head injuries are the most common result of this type of accident. It is incumbent upon employers and building owners to adhere to safety regulations, but personal responsibility is also a factor.
- Repetitive Strain – This debilitating condition results from straining your neck, hands, wrists, etc., while performing repetitive tasks, such staring at a computer monitor, typing, using a mouse, or writing. Repetitive motions of this type can strain muscles or tendons causing neck pain, vision problems, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Use of agronomic equipment and training can help keep reduce these types of injuries.
- Dangerous Machinery – Where there is heavy equipment and machinery, there are accidents. Appendages, hair, clothing can all become factors in accidents involving machinery. Protective gear, guards, specialized training and other safety precautions are essential.
- DefensiveReactions – Ever slipped and tripped without falling? Dodged a door that suddenly opens? Almost bump into someone you didn’t notice was there? Simple reactions to these things can cause ankles to twist, muscles to pull, and a wide array other injuries. Preventing these types of accidents is difficult, but being aware of one’s surroundings will certainly help.
- Workplace Violence – Office politics and general disagreements or arguments can lead to physical injuries. This is a rather serious matter. To reduce violent behavior, employers must set workplace-conflict guidelines, train managers as mediators, eliminate gender bias, and clarify priorities.
We all want employers to keep their workplaces safe and OSHA compliant, but not all of them do. If dangerous conditions persist, employees should inform their employer about the issue in writing. When employers fail to correct the issue, the worker can file a complaint with OSHA or with the appropriate state occupational safety agency.
If you are retaliated against or fired as a result of a complaint, or if you’ve been injured at work, contact OSHA and consider hiring an experienced lawyer.
To speak to a workers’ compensation advocate, call (800) 734-6130, or fill out the form at right.