We spend a significant chunk of our lives at work, so it’s crucial to make sure it’s a safe and secure environment. Nobody wants to go through the stress and pain of a workplace injury. What’s more, injuries in the workplace can disrupt productivity, cause financial losses, and permanently harm individuals.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the common types and causes of workplace injuries, and, most importantly, how to keep you and your colleagues safe. Let’s get started!
The Usual Suspects: Common Types of Workplace Injuries
We’ve all heard about one-off freak accidents that can occur at work, such as drownings, shootings, or fires. While they’re incredibly tragic, it’s nearly impossible to predict or prevent them.
But other accidents just seem inherent to most workplaces – to the point where they’re especially frustrating for safety professionals.
In 2021, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries– an 8.9% increase from 2020. Most of these are preventable, provided employers take proper precautions and adhere to industry guidelines.
If you’re injured due to an employer’s negligence, a workplace injury lawyer can help you get compensated. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most prevalent workplace injuries out there.
Slip and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls account for nearly 1 million hospital visits annually. And while they might sound innocent, serious falls can leave you with injuries like head trauma, broken bones, sprains, and pulled muscles.
The most common reasons for falls in the workplace include:
- Occasional spills, wet/oily surfaces, weather hazards like icy steps/walkways, and loose rugs.
- Poor lighting, clutter, wrinkled carpets/mats, uncovered cables, and uneven walking surfaces.
There are three keys to preventing slip and fall accidents: good housekeeping, quality walking paths, and proper footwear. Additionally, employees must be incentivized to report areas with noticeable clutter, obstruction, spillage, or damage.
Driving is a major part of many jobs, with delivery drivers, taxi drivers, and forklift operators being some of the most obvious examples. However, this doesn’t mean others aren’t at risk. You could be struck, run over, or crushed by a moving vehicle, depending on the circumstances.
Avoiding these accidents begins with assessing who’s at risk and where these accidents usually occur. Focus on workplace design and ensure all layout routes segregate pedestrians and vehicles. Add directions, speed limits, and priority signs for better safety.
You might think injuries from handling, lifting, or carrying heavy objects are restricted to warehouses. But overexertion can happen anywhere, especially when you lift without the correct techniques or equipment.
Muscle strains can be caused by:
- Manually lifting heavy objects
- Repetitive work with no breaks
- Microtasks on the factory line
- Typing or moving a mouse without good ergonomics
- A collapsing structure
- Jumping to different levels
Overexertion and repetitive stress injuries (RSI) can be severe enough to inhibit simple activities and even impair a worker’s ability to perform their job. Protect yourself by taking frequent breaks and stretching your muscles. Also, use mechanical lifting equipment to transport anything over 50 lbs.
Cuts and Lacerations
All types of office implements can leave you with a nasty cut. These injuries can vary in severity, from minor nicks requiring a bandage to deep lacerations necessitating stitches.
Preventing cuts and lacerations involves wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining tools, staying focused on tasks, properly storing sharp objects, and using safety guards on machinery. Remember to handle sharp items with care to reduce the chances of these accidents.
Faulty gas lines, improperly stored combustible materials, or open flames can frequently cause explosions in the workplace. The resulting injuries can damage your respiratory system, inflict varying degrees of burns, or disfigure you permanently.
Explosion injuries are classified into four types depending on their effect on your body:
- Primary Blast: Injuries caused by a blast wave unique to high-order explosions.
- Secondary Blast: Injuries caused by flying objects or debris displaced by the shockwaves.
- Tertiary Blast: Injuries due to displacement through air or structural collapse.
- Quaternary Blast: All other injuries, including crushing, burns, radiation, and inhaling toxic fumes.
Violence at Work
As much as we’d like to think workplace drama doesn’t exist, it does. A mix of stress and tension can lead to aggressive confrontations between employees and customers, resulting in harassment, intimidation, or physical assault.
A great way to stave off workplace violence is to set a zero-tolerance policy covering all staff. Implement a well-defined emergency plan to ensure a swift response in case an incident occurs.
Most of us have walked into the edge of a table or bumped into a wall at some point. But when you’re working in a high-risk industry, these injuries can be far more fatal. We’re talking about severed limbs/fingers, traumatic brain injuries, stress fractures, joint dislocations, blindness, and more.
Severe strike-by injuries are often caused by:
- Walking into machinery
- Being pushed into hard surfaces
- Excessive vibration
- Dropped loads
- Falling tools and debris
Always wear a hard hat when working in areas with overhead activity. Also, maintain a safe distance from overhead work and use safety nets and barriers to reduce the risk of being hit by falling objects.
What To Do if You Are in a Workplace Accident
A workplace accident can affect your personal life and your ability to do your job in the long run. To this end, let’s look at some steps you need to follow when you’ve had an accident at work.
Seeking Medical Help
First things first: attend to the injuries. A quick and efficient medical response can mean the difference between life and death. If the business is big enough to have medical staff, alert them quickly. In cases of life-threatening emergencies, call 911.
Report the Accident to Your Manager
Next, report the accident to your manager and colleagues. It’s important to discuss workplace accidents with others, so they can corroborate your story when you file a claim. Plus, your employer needs to know what happened to prevent similar events in the future. Be honest about what occurred and provide all the details you can remember.
If you’re not too injured, take photographs and videos of the accident site. Your workplace injury attorney can use them to support your version of events later. You can also collect witness statements to strengthen your claim.
Follow Company Protocol
Your workplace must have specific procedures for reporting accidents and seeking medical attention. Make sure to follow those guidelines in the letter. It’s all about keeping things official, so you’re protected.
Keep Records of All Expenses
Keep tabs on any expenses related to your injury, such as medical bills, prescription costs, and transportation expenses for doctor’s appointments. You may be eligible for reimbursement or compensation for these costs.
File a Worker’s Compensation Claim
If your injury is work-related and requires medical treatment or time off work, you may have to file a worker’s compensation claim. This can help cover your medical bills and offer some financial support during your recovery journey. A work accident lawyer can guide you through the process.
Get in Touch with a Workplace Injury Attorney
Unfortunately, not all employers are cooperative. Some may try to weasel their way out of paying you a fair sum for your damages. Under such circumstances, you need a reputable workplace injury attorney to back you up. A lawyer will analyze your case and help you determine what benefits you might be entitled to.
Return to Work in Your Own Time
Once your doctor gives you the green light to return to work, make sure you do so safely. If necessary, discuss any accommodations or adjustments with your employer.
Injuries at the workplace can throw a wrench in your career and well-being. But armed with knowledge and a little common sense, you and your employer can prevent many of these mishaps. Remember, safety isn’t just about following rules—it’s about looking out for each other and creating a culture where everyone goes home in one piece.