Many of us take a safe working environment for granted, and sadly, injuries at work are all too common. Work-related injuries can be caused by a number of factors, and even workplaces with less obvious hazards can pose a risk to employees, regardless of the role.
In 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,654,700 recordable cases of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in the private industry alone, and 4,764 fatal injuries reported across all sectors. With statistics like these, it is clear to see that injuries in the workplace are a frequent occurrence.
Injuries can happen at work for many different reasons, from a lack of communication and inadequate health and safety protocols to tiredness and carelessness. Here, you can learn more about the most common reasons for work-related injuries.
Most Common Work-Related Injury Causes
Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), due to illness cases related to COVID-19, exposure to harmful substances or environments was responsible for the leading cause of ‘work-related injuries and illnesses involving days away from work’ in 2020 (previously the 6th ranked cause). These types of incidences are most common in the healthcare industry. Exposure to harmful substances or environments includes exposure to:
- Hazardous chemicals (via inhalation or contact with skin)
- Other harmful substances, including contagious and infectious diseases (COVID-19)
- Radiation and noise
- Temperature extremes
- Air and water pressure changes
- Oxygen deficiency
- Contaminated blood (from a needlestick injury or open wound)
- Exposure to a traumatic or stressful event
Overexertion and Bodily Reaction
Overexertion and bodily reaction account for a high percentage of injuries at work, with musculoskeletal injuries representing approximately 80% of work-related injuries. The back is reported as the most frequent part of the body to be injured.
Common activities to cause these types of injuries to include, bending, throwing, turning quickly, and lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or holding heavy objects. Although these injuries are more common in physically demanding jobs, such as the manufacturing and construction sectors, they can occur in all fields of work, particularly if improper (lifting) techniques are practiced.
Injury can also be caused by repetitive motion, which can put persistent stress on an area of the body. Tendonitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome are common repetitive motion injuries.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are the third highest cause of work-related injuries. These injuries are reported to be more common in the transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture industry, but can occur in any line of work. They typically result in injuries such as sprains, strains, and tears. Falls, slips, and trips may include:
- Falling to a lower level, such as from a collapsing structure, through a surface, or from a ladder
- Falling on the same level, such as tripping, slipping, or falling onto or against an object
- Slipping or tripping without falling
- Jumping to a lower level (controlled and voluntary action)
Sometimes, these types of injuries are caused by the negligence of individuals, or through taking unnecessary risks, such as leaving a tripping hazard in the path of others, spilling something slippery on the floor and not cleaning it up, or using inappropriate equipment, such as standing on a chair to reach something high. These incidences can be easily avoided by using the correct protocols in the workplace.
Contact with Objects and Equipment
Prior to 2020, contact with objects and equipment was the third leading cause of injury in the workplace. These types of injuries are more common when working in agriculture, construction, or manufacturing. Injuries can include:
- Contact with a moving object, such as a piece of machinery striking or bumping into a worker
- Eye injuries (caused by foreign bodies entering the eye)
- Injury to a part of the body from an object or piece of equipment, such as through compression or being pinched or crushed, or an object falling onto someone
- Injury from another source, such as vibration, friction, or pressure
There are also many other things that can cause injuries in the workplace, such as transportation (auto/truck) accidents, fire and explosions, and violence or injury caused by people or animals.
What Happens If You Get Injured At Work?
Injuries at work can happen regardless of the field of work a person is in. Serious incidents can have a significant impact on a person’s physical and emotional health and financial standing.
If you get injured at work, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Work-related injuries include anything that causes harm while carrying out your required work duties, whether it’s the result of an accident, a repetitive motion injury, stress-related digestive disorder, or breathing problems. Workers’ compensation can help towards the cost of any medical treatment you need and ensure you receive the right rehabilitation for the best outcome. To ensure your legal rights to workers’ compensation benefits are protected, there are some steps you need to take:
- Report the injury as soon as possible to your employer. Some injuries may have delayed symptoms or can get worse over time. They should still be reported as soon as you become aware of them.
- Get prompt and appropriate medical attention (in some cases, your employer may require that you see a specified approved health care provider for treatment).
- Notify your employer in writing (using their official compensation claim form) within 30 days of the injury in order to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
Once the claims process starts, you may be required to attend an independent medical examination for further assessment. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, ongoing rehabilitation and therapy, loss of earnings compensation, and trauma counseling.
Workers’ Compensation and Injury Care Services in Grand Junction, Colorado
Work partners Occupational Health specializes in workers’ compensation services. We treat both work-related injuries and illnesses, and our focus is on the balance between the needs of the company, the best care for the injured employee, and the requirements of the insurance carrier.
If you have been injured at work, contact WorkPartners Occupational Health for the expert care and attention you need. Our friendly, highly-skilled medical professionals treat a wide variety of work-related injuries and offer a personalized service that aims to help get you back to work faster, feel productive again, and regain your financial security.
To learn more about our quality workers’ compensation and injury care services, or to schedule a consultation with one of our expert providers, call us at (970) 241-5585 or use our secure online appointment request form.