As a business owner, you may feel you’ve taken the proper precautions to ensure you provide a safe working environment. As an employee, you may assume you're safe at work. As such, when a workplace injury occurs, it throws both employers and employees off-guard. Even a minor injury may have workers questioning if a work environment is truly safe.
By learning more about the most common workplace accidents, you’ll be aware of injuries that can occur in even the safest work environments. Review the advice provided below so you can learn how to prevent these common injuries and keep everyone safe on the job.
Workplace injuries may be more common than you think.
According to statistics from the National Safety Council (NSC), in the U.S.:
A worker is injured on the job every seven seconds in the U.S. and there are several common situations that cause these injuries to occur.
Overexertion occurs when you push your body too hard or you’ve been performing a repetitive motion that leads to injury. Back pain from heavy or repetitive lifting or pain in the hands and wrists from excessive computer work both constitute overexertion injuries.
The NSC calculates that 33.54% of the workplace injuries that occur in the U.S. are attributed to overexertion. When this type of injury occurs, an employee may need to take a break from work, pursue physical therapy, or have surgery to correct the problem. An employee may pursue legal action for an injury if the employer didn’t provide the proper equipment, training, or breaks.
In the U.S., the NSC concludes that about 26% of all workplace injuries are related to equipment. These injuries may be minor and only require the employee to visit a medical professional for treatment.
However, some equipment-related injuries may be severe and require surgery, limb amputation, or may even cause death. As an employer, you’ll need to hire a premises liability lawyer if an employee pursues legal action due to a lack of training or equipment malfunction.
According to the CDC Foundation, in 2013, workplace vehicle crashes cost U.S. employers $25 billion. These costs were related to death or injury that occurred when employees were in transportation-related or vehicle accidents while doing their job.
Depending on the severity of the vehicle accident, an employee could experience a minor injury, severe injury, or even death. Employees may need to take legal action for car accidents to cover their medical expenses and the time they’re unable to work.
A slip, trip, or fall can occur in any workplace environment. An employee may trip over a step in an office or slip on an oil spill in a warehouse. These slip-and-fall accidents may only lead to minor injuries, such as a stubbed toe, or can lead to severe injuries, such as an injured back or a broken arm.
The NSC states that 25.8% of all workplace injuries are slip-and-fall accidents. An employee may hire a slip-and-fall attorney and pursue legal action if they feel the employer was negligent. The employer may be responsible for the worker’s medical bills and other expenses related to the slip-and-fall.
A chemical exposure injury occurs when an employee inhales or comes in contact with a dangerous chemical. Mishandling of certain substances may also cause a fire or explosion, which can lead to an injury.
For example, let’s say a maid mixes ammonia and bleach and experiences throat irritation from the chemical reaction, or that an employee opens a drum of gas and an explosion ensues. In 2017, chemical inhalations in the workplace accounted for 41 deaths in the U.S.
Employees may pursue legal action from chemical exposure if they experience injuries on the job, such as damaged skin or respiratory problems. If chemical exposure was due to employer negligence, the employer may be responsible for the employee’s medical expenses and time out of work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BOL), the five industries with the most workplace injuries include:
To prevent workplace injuries, employers must implement best practices in the workplace.
This should include an emphasis on:
When an injury occurs, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, getting treatment for the injury right away may prevent more problems or additional injuries.
Additionally, report the incident to a supervisor or human resources representative. If your injury was due to a hazard, such as faulty equipment, an employer can take action to ensure no other employees are injured in the same manner. Maintaining open communication with your employer helps to ensure you know the actions they’re taking to prevent the injury from occurring again.
You should also discuss your workers’ compensation options with your employer. Your medical expenses and time away from work may be covered when you make a worker’s compensation claim. If not, you may need to seek legal representation for monetary assistance with these expenses.
When workers understand how to prevent accidents and employers implement safety plans, the work environment remains relatively safe. However, if a workplace injury occurs, it’s important for the employer and employee to work together to remedy the situation.
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