By: Donna Devita
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You don’t have to work a dangerous job to sustain an occupational injury. Work injuries can happen at any time in any industry, and both employers and workers should be aware and prepared to help prevent them from happening in the first place.
Work Injuries in the U.S.
Millions of employees across the United States sustain work-related injuries every year. In 2017, there were over 2.8 million non-fatal work injuries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and these are only the ones that were reported. Hundreds or even thousands of injuries may go unreported every year, either because they are considered too ‘small’ or the employees feel they will incur consequences for telling a supervisor.
Work injuries do not just affect a worker on a physical level. Nearly one-third of non-fatal work injuries involved missing one or multiple days of work. These absences can result in loss of income, responsibilities, privileges, or in the worst of cases even a job. Other areas of a workers life can also be affected by a work injury: emotional health, psychological health, family relationships, financial stability, and overall well-being. While some work injuries are the result of a freak accident, most are completely preventable with the proper safety precautions in place.
Most Common Workplace Injuries
The first step to preventing injuries from occurring at work is to understand the most common types of occupational injuries across multiple industries. Learning how to keep employees safe from these common work injuries can help employers develop effective safety policies and prevention strategies:
- Overexertion Injuries: Overexertion injuries are the most common and expensive injuries in the country. These injuries happen when employees are doing too much, participating in tasks that are strenuous, or performing tasks that may be above their physical ability to do. Overexertion injuries can result from lifting, pulling, holding, carrying, pushing, or throwing.
- Slipping/Tripping Injuries: Slip and falls, or trip and falls, are most likely to happen on wet and slippery surfaces due to spills or improper maintenance. Standing puddles, food/drink spills, or chemical leaks can all lead to slip and falls.
- Falling Injuries (from heights): These types of injuries occur when falling from elevated working surfaces such as roofs, windows, ladders, stairs. Depending on the height, these injuries can have devastating consequences such as brain injury, internal organ damage, and spinal injury
- Reaction Injuries: Reaction injuries place stress on the muscles, bones, and joints from the force of slipping or tripping and not falling. Reaction injuries often occur when an employee is surprised by their environment.
- Falling Object Injuries: When objects are not securely and properly placed, they can easily fall and strike a fellow worker. These types of injuries can lead to severe consequences such as traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
- Walking Injuries: Workers can walk into all sorts of objects that could cause impact injuries to the body. These types of objects include doors, walls, windows, cabinets, tables, chairs. desks, machines, etc.
- Vehicle Accidents: Vehicle accidents are often the most fatal work-related injuries. Workers who drive for work can be distracted, in a rush, or just at the mercy of other dangerous drivers on the road.
- Machine Injuries: Industries such as manufacturing and construction have large equipment that can be extremely harmful to workers if they become entangled. Shoes, fingers, arms, clothing, and jewelry are all common culprits for employees becoming stuck in machines.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries: Employees who do similar tasks at every shift are at risk for repetitive motion injuries. Typing, lifting, turning, and pressing all seem like simple motions but can cause long-term medical conditions such as carpal tunnel, vision problems, and back pain.
- Workplace Violence: Workers do not always get along with each other. When these disagreements get physical, employees can cause serious physical harm to each other.
Preventing Workplace Accidents
While each injury requires its own safety plan to keep workers safe on the job, there are some general safety steps all employees and employers can implement to help prevent occupational injuries on the job:
- Set limits on activities or tasks that are extremely strenuous in nature.
- Keep work and walking surfaces free of debris, spills, and clutter.
- Use personal protective equipment whenever needed.
- Stay alert to your surroundings.
- Use safe driving habits when traveling on the road.
- Take breaks from repetitive motions.
- Promote healthy working relationships to reduce conflict among employees.
- Train all employees on safety policies when they begin their job or when a policy has changed.
While some employees sustain injuries minor in nature, other workers have suffered catastrophic and permanent injuries that they will never completely recover from. It’s extremely important for the safety of all workers that employers put the safety of their employees first and create ongoing safety training to reduce the number of injuries on the job.
Work Safely CT
You go to work to earn money so you can enjoy your life, not to sustain an injury that could change it forever. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious work injury on the job, call our winning team at Jacobs & Wallace for help. Our expert team of personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys has over 40 years of experience defending workers’ rights. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.