As personal injury and employment law professionals, we see a lot of work-related injuries day in and day out. It’s far more common than one might think. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that roughly 2.8 million workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in 2018 (last reported data). That number is compounded by 5,000 fatal injuries as well.
The consequences of a work-related injury can range from missed work, distress, trauma, loss of income, and other issues that can severely impact the victim. Every worker should be aware of the risks and dangers that are all-too-common so that they can fulfill their employment obligations in a safe and protected environment.
Employees should also be aware of how management and their work are handling safety issues, compliance standards, and other various requirements that create a hazard-free and safe work environment. It’s also important for workers to understand how their insurance covers worker’s compensation and other injury-related issues.
Common Work-Related Injuries
Slip and Falls
We’ll begin our list with one of the most well known work-related injuries — slip and falls. These are so renowned because they’re not specific to one or two industries. Instead, they can happen to almost anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Slip injuries can be surprisingly severe, resulting in head injuries such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or broken bones and spinal cord damages. These injuries can occur as a result of fallen debris, lubricants, fluids, or even beverages spilling onto the floor. They can also be caused by frozen temperatures and icy conditions. It’s not uncommon for these types of injuries to include bruises, sprains, or even torn ligaments or muscles.
Fall injuries can be especially serious, especially for construction workers. The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) reports that falls are the number one cause of death for construction personnel.
Work-Related Car and Motor-Vehicle Injuries
Traffic poses a continuous threat, even for the on-the-job employee. If we’re looking at all work-related deaths, traffic accidents are at the top of the list in the United States, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Managing compensation concerns following a vehicle accident can be a challenge. Commuting workers aren’t eligible for worker’s comp in an incident where they’re involved in a crash to or from work.
However, some workers drive as a central part of their job. This could include:
- Delivery drivers
- Semi-truck drivers
- Construction workers
- And more
It’s important to know what compensation you may be eligible for if driving is a core aspect of your job. Even workers that may be driving on behalf of their employer, whether to drop off a package or running errands, should know how they may or may not be protected.
Obtaining full compensation for a work-related car accident where you’re not at fault means that you may need to pursue damages against the other party involved. Knowing how to respond after an accident can help prepare you for the long road ahead. Check out our article, “4 Essential Steps to Take After a Car Accident,” to learn more.
Falling Objects & Machine Accidents
Some of the most frightening work-related injuries can happen as a result of fallen objects and machine accidents. Certain work areas are hotbeds for falling objects such as product shelves, ladders, pallets, or upper-level areas that may be disturbed. These can be extremely dangerous and can result in injuries to the head or face — or even foot. Some falling objects may shatter, resulting in eye injuries as well.
Workplace machinery has come a long way, and while injuries and accidents are less common, they still present a serious risk to workers. These are the horror stories you hear all-too-often. Amputations and other disfigurements are severe issues with machine workers. Machine accidents can also cause chemical burns, thermal burns, and electrical injuries as well.
Over-Extension and Repetitive Motion Injuries
Some injuries may not be life-threatening, but they can rack up absurd medical bills. Over-extension, whether from pulling, lifting, pushing, gripping, throwing, or carrying on the job may result in sprains, tears, and strains. While these seem relatively harmless on the surface, they can result in expensive surgeries or physical rehabilitation — which may cause an employee to miss work. It’s an extremely common reason for work-related back-injuries as well, which can be difficult to recover from.
Repetitive motion is fairly self-explanatory. Repetitive movements put an extraordinary amount of stress on the body. Now, these work injuries can occur in occupations that you might be thinking, such as construction with repetitive hammering or other motions. However, these can also occur from seemingly simple tasks such as scanning groceries, typing, or reaching for paperwork.
Now, nearly every worker in the United States expects a violent-free workplace. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Workers have been disabled, injured, or even killed as a result of workplace violence. Violent crimes are not immune to a workplace environment, and armed robberies, burglaries, or theft may leave employees physically, emotionally, mentally scarred.
Perhaps the most terrifying situation can arise when a current or former employee attacks their fellow coworkers. These violent acts, while rare, still leave workers eligible for the compensation they deserve.
Creating a Safer Work Environment
It’s the employer’s responsibility to create a safe and secure work environment so that workers can feel protected while on the job. Safety checklists, compliance with OSHA and EPA requirements, along with any other legal obligations, is a must. Creating a safe work environment is not only a duty but also holds legal precedence.
Workers should be aware of their rights concerning work-related injuries and seek a personal injury attorney they can rely on if accidents do occur. Keep all workplace documents and contracts, not only for your own knowledge but also as evidence of any failed obligations by your employer. Work-related injuries may be common, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. If you or someone you know has been affected by a work-related injury, speak to a personal injury or employment law professional.