10 Most Common Workplace Injuries

Did you know that every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home?

That’s right. In 2015 (the most recent statistical year) 4,836 workers were killed on the job.

Another 3.3 million people per year suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. No one wants to get hurt on the job. But best safety practices are often neglected because they take a little extra time and effort.

As a result, serious workplace injuries are far too common.

Here is a list of the top 10 reported worker’s compensation injuries, according to leading insurance companies:

#10 – Violent Acts

Serious physical injuries can ensue when office politics and other arguments erupt into physical confrontations. Many of these situations can be prevented by:

  • Defining and communicating a clear code of conduct, such as “zero tolerance with respect to moral harassment and other types of workplace violence.
  • Providing workplace violence training to all staff.
  • Diligently monitoring any suspicious activities.
  • Exercising dissuasion and enforcing sanctions for conduct violations.

#9 – Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive Stress Injury, or RSI, is often less obvious than other types of injury, but it can be very harmful in the long run. Repetitive motions, such as a factory worker performing the same task over and over again, can strain muscles and tendons. The repeated activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to cause a problem.

The result is often back pain, joint problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome. To avoid RSI, workers should be sure to take adequate work breaks, perform stretching exercises, and vary their work tasks, whenever possible. For instance, workers can be cross trained and a job rotation schedule implemented.

#8 – Machine Entanglement

The modern factory relies heavily on automated systems and a nonstop production line. Sometimes a worker will get too close to a machine that slices, welds, compresses or crushes.  The machine is unable to differentiate between an inanimate object and a human body.

Extra precautions must be taken to ensure that clothing, shoes, fingers and hair are kept far away from moving parts. Use protective barriers.

According to OSHA, the best rule to remember is this: “Any machine part, function, or process which may cause injury must be safeguarded.”

Safeguards must prevent hands, arms, and any other part of a worker’s body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. A good safeguarding system eliminates the possibility of the operator or another worker placing parts of their bodies near hazardous moving parts.

#7 – Vehicle Accidents

Employees who drive for business purposes are often injured in vehicle accidents, some of which can be fatal.  Those vehicles include forklifts.

In fact, OSHA statistics indicate about 85 forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious forklift injuries occur each year. In 42% of those fatalities, the operator was crushed by a tipping vehicle.

The safest place for a forklift operator is strapped into the seat with a seat belt. Which is why employers are obligated to require operators to use seat belts or other restraining devices. In addition, operators must receive site-specific forklift training, including the use of any attachments.

The following video clip provides some excellent safety tips for forklift operators:

 
Refresher training for forklift operators should also be available whenever necessary.

#6 – “Walking Into” Injuries

This happens when a person accidentally walks into a hard-surface object such as a wall, door, machinery, etc. Head, knee, neck, and foot injuries are the common result of these accidents.

The best way to prevent “walking into” injuries is to maintain a neat and tidy workplace. Clearly mark any potential obstacles/hazards. And train employees to be diligent in their surroundings.

#5 – Falling Object Injuries

Objects that fall from shelves or are dropped by another person can cause very serious injuries. Head injuries are a common result of this type of accident.

Materials should be stored or stacked in a safe and secure manner, and signage should be used to indicate any areas where debris may fall. Of course, proper personal protection gear (such as a hard hat) is also key to worker safety.

#4 – Reaction Injuries

Reaction injuries occur when a person slips or trips but “catches himself” to keep from falling.  These incidents can cause muscle injuries, body trauma, and a variety of other medical issues.

Preventing this type of injury is difficult because of our bodies’ natural reflexive actions. The best prevention guideline is for employees to be aware of their surrounding environment at all times.

#3 – Falling from Heights

Falling from an elevated area (such as a roof, ladder or stairway) can be caused by a slip-and-fall or by faulty equipment.

To prevent these injuries, make sure employees use proper personal protection gear. Install guardrails and other engineered protection devices, and encourage and reward employee diligence.

#2 – Slipping/Tripping

Falls on slippery floors or trips over objects lying on the floor are the second most common type of workplace injury.

Train employees on the hazards of slips, trips, and falls, as well as the proper management of spills and clean up. Use non-slip rugs and signage to indicate potentially hazardous areas.

#1 – Overexertion Injuries

The most common type of workplace injury is overexertion. It’s also the most expensive.

This category includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing. It represents $12.75 billion in direct costs, more than 25% of the overall national burden.

According to industry experts, overexertion continues to be a problem because workers do not understand the risk.

Because everybody engages in lifting, pulling, pushing and carrying from the time they start walking to the time they join the work force, they naturally believe they can do it properly.

To address this issue, employers should provide hands-on training by observing workers performing the tasks, and offering guidance when they are doing it incorrectly. They should also incorporate a psychosocial process into the program in order to understand how stress can affect worker safety. Even properly trained employees can become distracted and modify their work practices when they feel undue stress.

The Bottom Line

Education, training, diligence and proper safety equipment are all necessary components of a complete workplace safety program. For a list of OSHA training and educational programs to help broaden worker and employer knowledge of safety hazards in the workplace, click here.

And be careful out there!


Sources:

Arbill Safety Blog

Occupational Health & Safety

The Seltzer Group