Contributed by The Law Office of Stephen C. Gaubert
Workplace injuries aren’t exclusive to physically-demanding industries, they can happen anywhere. Whether the injuries are a result of malfunctioning machinery, an object falling from a shelf or even slipping on a wet floor, they can leave people scrambling to cover the overwhelming medical bills that can pile up throughout the recovery period and for quite some time after. It’s true that not all accidents can be prevented, but the right amount of knowledge can go a long way. Be situationally aware and ready by reading about some of the most common workplace injuries below.
Overexertion results from the pulling of a muscle or the movement of a joint past its normal range of motion. These injuries typically arise from lifting, pulling, pushing, throwing or holding objects heavier than an employee can handle, which consistently makes this injury the top cause of workers’ compensation claims, according to the Department of Labor.
Factory, construction and physical labor jobs are among the top industries that see these types of injuries, due to their heavy physical requirements, with law enforcement also seeing a great deal of overexertion claims.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls account for roughly 15 percent of workers’ compensation claims, which makes them one of the most commonly occurring workplace injuries. As the name states, these injuries occur from slipping, tripping or falling, typically due to wet floors around the workplace. Patches of snow and ice make these accidents a common occurrence outside of the work building as well.
It’s possible for slippery pathways to be present almost anywhere, which means that these injuries aren’t exclusive to any one industry. However, security workers, store clerks and groundskeepers tend to be involved in these accidents more often than other jobs.
Fall to Lower Level
Although slips, trips and falls related to slippery walkways can occur in virtually any industry, falling from heights is among the top causes of injury to both construction and retail industry workers. Falls to a lower level surface occur when an employee falls from a roof, ladder or down a flight of stairs, which can cause serious bodily injury or even be fatal.
Struck By or Against an Object
Struck By Object
Being struck by an object is another extremely common workplace accident. In fact, nearly 10 percent of workers’ compensation claims are a result of being struck by or against objects. Employees tend to be struck by an object when reaching for a high shelf or when an object is dropped by a coworker from a higher level. This makes restaurant and retail workers the most common recipients of this type of injury.
Struck Against an Object
This is type of accident occurs when an employee falls, or is forced, into a stationary object such as doors, windows, walls, etc.
Heavy machinery is used in a plethora of industries, making this not only an extremely dangerous workplace accident but an unfortunately common one as well. Several states have laws in place requiring employees to be properly trained before operating machinery, but even with training, accidents are always a possibility. Large, heavy machinery has the potential to crush, maim or even kill workers, affecting their quality of life and creating mountains of burdensome medical debt.
Bodily reaction injuries are the injuries received from slipping, tripping or trying to avoid falling such as sprained or twisted ankles, broken wrists or knee injuries. Although they can happen to anyone at anytime, they are most often seen by law enforcement, nursing staff or other professions that require frequent walking.
The majority of workplace injuries are caused by accidents, mistakes or situations beyond human control, but repetitive motion injuries are much different. These injuries are brought about by repeated actions that may have negative health consequences for employees over time, such as typing, lifting bulky inventory or using a mouse. The most common repetitive motion injuries in the workplace are carpal tunnel, tendonitis and bursitis.
Because these injuries are developed over time by repetition, it is much more difficult to prove that a repetitive injury directly stems from the workplace. This places the burden of proof on the employee.
Proper knowledge of safety protocols and situational awareness are the two best precautionary measures for the workplace. Accidents happen and can’t always be prevented, so it’s imperative to be aware and knowledgeable for the times they can.