Workplace injuries are more common than you think. Injuries vary from minor cuts and bruises, to serious trip/slip and falls, to fatal. According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 4,500 individuals are killed on the job each year, with millions more injured. Former US Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis once said, “Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they never recover. These are preventable tragedies that devalue our workers, devastate their families, and damage our economy.” Below are the ten most common workplace injuries and tips on how to prevent them.
10. Acts of Violence – workplace politics, disagreements, and arguments can turn physical, and in some instances deadly. Enhanced employee training, anger management counseling, and increased employee vigilance can help reduce the number of workplace injuries and deaths due to workplace violence.
9. Repetitive Motion – Repetitive movements like typing, using a mouse, cleaning, using a computer, etc. can slowly cause serious bodily harm like impaired vision, migraines, muscle aches, carpal tunnel syndrome, or back pain. Ergonomic equipment that is designed to mitigate these side effects can help reduce the number of workplace injuries related to repetitive motion.
8. Machine Injuries – Fingers and hair can easily become caught in machinery or workers can also get stuck in-between machines, crushed under machines, causing injuries, loss of limbs, and even death. Employees should always use the equipment as directed, stay vigilant, and wear the proper safety equipment to avoid these injuries.
7. Electrocutions – Construction workers, linemen, electricians, and factory workers are at the greatest risk for on the job electrocutions, which can often be fatal. Proper safety training and enforcement and personal protection equipment can help reduce these injuries and deaths.
6. Walking Injuries – These injuries occur when employees walk into objects such as walls, doors, tables, etc., causing head, knee, neck, and foot injuries. Employees should always be vigilant when on the job site and employers should maintain the workplace free from potential hazards to help avoid these types of injuries.
5. Vehicle Accidents – Employees who drive for a living, such as truck drivers or salespersons, are at risk for serious or even fatal vehicle accidents. Regular employee safe driving training and vehicle maintenance can help reduce the number of these accidents.
4. Falling Objects – Objects that fall from a shelf or a building can cause serious to fatal head injuries and are particularly common in workplaces such as warehouses, stock rooms, and construction sites. Keeping the area free from falling hazards and ensuring that employees wear personal protection gear can help maintain the area as safe as possible.
3. Falls – Falling from heights such as ladders, roofs, and stairways are common accidents, and can be caused by slip and fall conditions (uneven surfaces, wet/slippery floors) or faulty equipment. Enhanced employee training, workplace environment maintenance, and the use of personal protection gear specially designed to prevent falls can help reduce these type of injuries and fatalities.
2. Slipping and Tripping – Wet, slippery, or uneven floors are the main reason for slip and trip injuries at the workplace. Also, improperly stored objects can become trip hazards that can injure employees. Employers should ensure that the workplace area is clean from debris, dry, and repaired to avoid these types of injuries.
1. Overexertion – Lifting, holding, pushing, pulling, carrying, or throwing heavy objects leads to the most common workplace injury: overexertion. These types of injuries are also the most expensive, costing $3.4 billion in benefits costs per year. Training and proper staffing are key elements to reducing these types of workplace injuries.
While ultimately it is the employer’s responsibility to train and educate their employees, provide the proper safety equipment, and ensure that the workplace environment is free from hazards, it is also the employee’s responsibility to use the training they have received while on the job, use personal protection methods, and remain vigilant while on the job to prevent unnecessary workplace accidents and injuries. Together, employer and employee efforts can help reduce the number of workplace injuries and deaths and bring people home safely every night.