Every day nationwide, 12 people don’t come home from work. Workplace incidents kill over 4000 workers per year, when all they were trying to do was their job. Millions more per year are injured at work and over 3 million of those never recover from their injuries. Here are the top ten work-related injuries in the US, according to insurance statistics, starting with number 10.
10. On the Job Violence – Nearly 30 years ago, in Edmond, Oklahoma, a disgruntled postal worker shot and killed 15 people, including himself, and wounded 6 others. Congress determined that the US Postal Service could have and should have taken steps to prevent the tragedy. The term “going postal,” was coined shortly thereafter to describe any incident where an individual loses control and causes mayhem and violence.
The horrific violence of that day became a springboard for other disgruntled employees, who now account for nearly 500 workplace fatalities per year, mostly by shooting. Injuries from violence in the workplace are an astounding 15-16 injuries per 1000 working. The violence ranges from assault to rape.
To prevent violence in the workplace, employers need to establish protocols in the event of violence or suspicious activities and train employees to be able to recognize potentially dangerous situations or environments.
9. Repetitive Motion – The Medieval working conditions of the 19th & early 20th Century didn’t concern itself with a silly injury such as this. Your back pain, sensory problems, or carpal tunnel syndrome were just good reasons to fire you and replace you with another able body willing to be broken.
We may be a little more enlightened today but employers still need to make sure that procedures and equipment are ergonomically designed for the least amount of repetitive motion. When this isn’t feasible, then a rotation cycle between jobs needs to be in place to prevent this injury.
8. Machinery – Nothing is quite as frightening than when a machine latches on to hair, clothing, fingers, or limbs and begins to devour the person attached.
Employers need to have policies, procedures, and dress codes in place that minimize this type of accident. Additionally, emergency shut-off and back-up controls need to be easily accessible.
7. Vehicles – Other than specific laws, public service announcements, law-enforcement, and backseat drivers, nobody monitors bad drivers. Consequently, accidents or “inevitabilities” occur.
Employers can monitor the driving habits of their employees who drive for business by establishing certain driving policies, training, and reporting systems that reinforce good driving habits.
6. Impacts – These are the injuries that may initially invoke a laugh when someone stubs a toe, walks into a wall, bumps into the corner of a table, or backs into a piece of equipment. It actually isn’t funny, especially when the impact causes serious head trauma or contusions.
Employers should play an active role in keeping walkways clear and welcoming feedback on existing hazardous conditions. Any hazardous condition should be rectified immediately.
5. Falling Objects – Falling objects may be common in construction zones where hard hats are required at all times but one may not think to be wary in the office or in a retail environment. A case of copy paper falling from the storage shelf or a number 10 can falling from the top shelf of a grocery store may not be common enough to require hard hats in the office or grocery store but they do occur.
Employers in all lines of work need to be wary of any existing condition where objects can potentially fall and injure an employee. Altering conditions and establishing policies can reduce this type of injury.
4. Slipping and Tripping without Falling – Whew! You almost fell. That might have been less painful however, than the involuntary twisting and wrenching of your muscles, tendons, and other tissues trying to avoid the fall. These events can cause debilitating injuries and conditions that may cause you to lose work or need long-term medical attention.
3. Falling from Heights – Taking a tumble off a ladder, scaffold, roof, or stairway, can cause severe injury, with head trauma being the most serious. Some jobs that carry the constant threat of falling will usually take extra precautions to alleviate that risk. However, many falls occur while performing simple tasks like changing a light bulb or carrying a box down a flight of stairs.
Employers should create policy and procedures that take into consideration inherent dangers in the workplace. Employees should not ignore policy, no matter how skilled they feel they may be without safety equipment or procedures.
2. Slipping, Tripping, and Falling – Slippery floors, uneven surfaces, or out of place objects and equipment in walkways can cause slips and falls that can result in serious injury.
Employers should make sure chronic problems such as uneven surfaces or items left in walk areas are rectified and solved. Policies regarding spills and wet surfaces, including having hazard markers, need to be in place. Employees should be aware of their environment at all times.
1. Overexertion – And the number one work related injury is overexertion. Any physical activity that hasn’t been replaced by a machine, such as lifting, pushing, carrying, throwing, or pulling has the potential for exertion injury. Overexertion may ultimately be a relative term since it differs from person to person. However, anytime someone pushes himself or herself beyond physical capacity, injury may be imminent.
Employers should be aware of all exertion regulations and not expect employees to push themselves beyond those guidelines.
Workplace injuries and deaths may seem inevitable, but by improving the safety surrounding the inevitable situation or removing that situation altogether could diminish their frequency. Employers and employees need to play an active role in making this happen.
This piece was written by Kurt Dowdle, a writer for http://naqvilaw.com, a personal injury firm in Las Vegas, NV.