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Know the Risks: The 10 Most Common Workplace Injuries

common workplace injuries

Did you know that 28.3 million injuries and illnesses occurred in US workplaces from 2010 to 2018? That’s right! In fact, 2.8 million of these workers’ compensation accidents happened in 2018 alone. The same goes for the 2017 work year. Moreover, these figures are only for employer-reported injuries and illnesses not all common workplace injuries. Expert estimate that at least half of severe work-related injuries go unreported.

What’s worse is that many of the most common workplace injuries are preventable. Unfortunately, they still happen due to employer negligence and lack of workplace safety. In fact, the top 10 OSHA violations types alone already accounted for 32,266 violations in 2018.

With workplace injuries being so common, it’s likely that your own maladies are from work. So, keep reading to learn of these injuries or illnesses you may be at risk for every time you head to work!

1. Sprains and Strains

Of all types of injuries at the workplace, sprains, strains, tears are the most common. In 2018, these soft-tissue injuries accounted for 30.7% of all injuries in the private industry. In the retail trade, these made up 38.4% of all reported injuries.

A sprain is an injury to the bands of tissue that joins two of your bones. A strain is an injury to a muscle or a tissue that affixes a muscle to a bone.

Sprains and strains can be simple overstretching of the ligaments, muscles, or tendons. In more severe cases, they can be partial or complete tearing of these fibrous tissues.

Pain, swelling, and inflammation are common symptoms of both sprains and strains. Sprains can also cause bruising, while strains can lead to cramping and muscle spasms.

Depending on how severe your sprain or strain is, it can take a few days to weeks to heal. A Grade 1 sprained ankle, for instance, usually heals within one to three weeks. A Grade 3 ankle sprain, however, can take up to eight weeks or even months to heal.

Incorrect bending and sudden twisting of the body are the top reasons for these injuries. These usually happen when one reaches for an object above or far from them, lifts heavy items, or puts them down.

Incorrect posture, which half of Americans say they’re not concerned about, is also a cause. Improper posture puts more strain on the tissues, and over time, can overstress them.

2. Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a type of musculoskeletal and nervous system disorder. RSIs result from repetitive tasks, sustained incorrect positions, and forceful exertions. These are always included in the OSHA top 10 workplace injuries, as they affect 1.8 million workers a year.

RSIs are extremely common since they can affect any movable part of the body. In the workplace, the top causes of RSI are manual labor and the use of computers.

Most RSIs affect the wrists, hands, elbows, forearms, neck, and shoulders. The most common RSIs, however, are carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome alone affects between four and 10 million Americans. As for tendonitis, it caused a median number of 33 missed workdays in 2017.

There are various RSI symptoms, but the most common is pain and tenderness in the affected part. The pain is usually accompanied by a throbbing or pulsing sensation. Tingling, loss of sensation and muscle weakness are also common RSI signs.

3. Transportation-Related Injuries

In 2017, 47% of worker deaths took place in the transportation and material moving sectors. During that year, there were 2,077 fatal incidents within this industry.

Transportation incidents can cause extreme head, neck, and spinal cord injuries. Fractures, concussions, lacerations, and severed limbs can also result from these workers’ comp accidents. These injuries are often caused by roadway collisions and overturned vehicles.

4. Injuries Resulting from Slips, Trips, and Falls

In 2016, there were a total of 189,660 fall injuries that occurred in US workplaces. 141,600 of these were injuries from falls to the same level, while the rest were from falls to a lower level.

So, it’s no wonder that lack of fall protection is the number one most common OSHA violation type. Moreover, falls are part of the OSHA Fatal Four hazards in the construction industry. Slip and trip incidents usually precede these fall accidents.

Slips occur due to the lack of traction or friction between footwear and the ground. This often happens due to oily or wet surfaces, uncleaned spills, and weather hazards. Uneven grounds or walking surfaces that have uneven traction also cause slips.

Whereas trips occur when a person’s foot strikes an object and forces them to lose their balance. Trips usually end in a fall. Poor lighting, clutter, obstructed views, and uneven walking surfaces can all cause trips.

Slips, trips, and falls result in bruises, cuts, lacerations, strains, sprains, and fractures. In more severe cases, they can cause injuries to the spinal cord and even the brain. These serious injuries can lead to permanent disability.

5. Injuries After Getting Struck by Falling Objects

Every year, there are over 50,000 OSHA accident reports of being “struck by falling objects”. And again, many of these incidents were — and are — preventable with the use of proper safety gear.

Any object with enough weight can fall, roll, slide, or slip and cause injuries like cuts and bruises. Building materials and tools can slip off a scaffolding and crash on to people below. Entire trees can fall on loggers and vehicles can overturn and crush a worker near them.

Such accidents can cause blunt force trauma which can lead to more severe bone fractures. Getting hit on the head can cause traumatic brain injury. Grave spinal cord injuries can also result from these incidents.

6. Injuries Caused by Getting Caught between Objects

Falling objects can also cause severe injuries and even deaths when they crush a person. Equipment that falls off a scaffolding can pin someone to the ground and crush their bones. Limbs can also get crushed or broken when caught between machinery or equipment.

Structures that collapse, such as on construction sites, can also injure and kill. A recent example is the March 2018 case of the pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Florida. This led to a worker being permanently disabled as well as the death of one worker and five motorists.

Either way, when the body gets pinned between two objects, the muscle cells start to die almost right away. Cell death occurs since the tissues are already cut off from the blood and oxygen flow. Without oxygen, the muscles, tissues, and nerves will quickly die.

Most pinned or crush victims sustain damages to the muscles, nerves, and skin tissue. In more severe cases, their limbs get severed, which can give rise to the need for amputation. Paralysis and internal organ damage can also occur.

7. Injuries Caused by Walking into Objects

Walking into a stationary object may only seem embarrassing, even funny. But this can actually cause severe injuries, as it can result in slips, trips, and falls. In fact, injuries caused by striking against an object is the third most common injury in people aged 25 to 65.

With enough force, walking into an object can cause traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The mildest form of TBI is a concussion, which can cause headaches, confusion, and even amnesia. People who suffer from mild concussions usually take seven to 10 days to recover.

Note that TBIs can be much worse — in fact, they’re the leading cause of disability and death in young adults in the US. Every year, up to 1.5 million Americans suffer from these injuries. TBIs also land up to 230,000 people in hospitals each year.

8. Injuries from Workplace Fights

Every year, two million cases of violent threats and assaults occur in US workplaces. Of these, 1.5 million are for actual assaults.

Violent workplace fights usually involve an exchange of punches. If the blow lands on the head, it can cause a concussion, brain hemorrhage, or a skull fracture. Brain swelling or brain stem damage may also occur.

The worst outcome is that the punch to the head is severe enough that it kills.

A punch to the abdomen can also be hard enough to cause shock and internal bleeding. These are life-threatening situations that warrant immediate medical attention.

Sometimes, blows to the body can also be powerful enough to cause bone fractures. Punches can also bruise organs, especially the kidneys.

9. Hearing-Related Problems

22 million US workers get exposed to hazardous levels of workplace noise every year. This is especially true for workers in the construction, manufacturing, and mining sectors.

Among employees who aren’t always exposed to noise, a study found that 7% suffer from hearing loss. Another 5% have tinnitus, while 2% have both maladies.

The same study revealed that these rates go way higher among noise-exposed employees. 23% suffer from hearing loss, 15% from tinnitus, and 9% from both.

The CDC also points out that almost a quarter of worker hearing problems are work-related. Exposure to loud noise and chemicals are the most common causes of such hearing issues.

10. Injuries Caused by Exposure to Hazardous Fumes and Chemicals

Hazardous substance exposure is also a common cause of workplace injuries and diseases. They can trigger contact dermatitis, a type of skin disease. In fact, this skin condition accounts for 15% to 20% of all reported occupational illnesses.

Some chemicals are also carcinogenic (cancer-causing), such as asbestos. Others, like hydrochloric acid, are corrosive, destroying both objects and human skin. Mutagen substances, such as benzene, can damage human chromosomes.

Direct exposure to these chemicals can cause rashes, burns, and open wounds. Inhaled, these substances can cause throat and lung injuries. Ingestion or inhalation can also lead to neurological injuries and nerve damages.

What to Do If You Sustain Any of These Common Workplace Injuries

The State of New York requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation. That includes full-time and part-time workers as well as borrowed or leased employees. If you belong in any of these worker classifications, then you should have workers’ comp.

You have every right to file a workers’ comp claim if you sustain injuries or illnesses at work. Your workers’ comp entitles you to compensation, such as coverage for medical bills. It also pays some of your lost wages in case you can’t go to work due to the injury or illness.

But for you to get all these benefits, you need to immediately report your injury or disease to your boss. In New York, you have 30 days to file this injury or illness report. Missing this deadline may result in the possible loss of workers’ comp benefits.

As soon as you get injured or fall sick due to work, visit a workers’ comp doctor. Depending on your employer, you may be able to choose your workers’ comp doctor. There are some employers though who require you to see their chosen physician.

If you have the choice, be sure that the Workers’ Compensation Board has authorized the doctor. Seeing an unauthorized physician may result in the denial of your workers’ comp claim.

As soon as you are able, file a workers’ comp claim with the Board District Office. You need to do this within two years from the date of the accident that caused your injury or illness. You need to meet this statute of limitation or your claim may become invalid.

Don’t Let Your Workplace Injury Make You Suffer Any Longer

There you go, your complete guide to common workplace injuries and how prevalent they are. It’s likely that the sores and pains you’re feeling right now are due to your work activities. Don’t let your suffering go on any longer — seek medical help now and file a workers’ comp claim.

If you think that you’ve suffered from a work-related injury or illness, we can help. Use our search tool to find a workers’ comp doctor who specializes in treating work-related injuries. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-897-8440 so you can schedule your medical appointment.