More than 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by employers in 2013, according to the bureau of Labor Statistics. There were also more than 4,500 fatal work injuries in 2013.
Workplace injuries can cost both an employer and employee time and money. Whether it’s a minor injury such as a small cut or a large injury such as a fall, workplace injuries should be reported immediately. Recognizing which injuries occur most often and how to prevent them can aid in minimizing injuries at work.
Most common workplace injuries
Staying safe while at work is typically a top priority for employers and for employees. Despite all the efforts that employers and employees employ to keep workplaces injury free, injuries still occur. Below are the most common workplace injuries that occur in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Overexertion and bodily reaction. Overexertion and bodily reaction accounts for 35.1 percent of all nonfatal injuries. It can be caused by lifting heavy item, bending, over-reaching, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkwardly body postures or repeatedly performing the same or similar tasks.
Falls, slips and trips. Falls, slips and trips account for 27 percent of all nonfatal injuries. Falls slips and trips can be caused by spills, rain, loose mats or poor lighting.
Contact with objects or equipment. Contact with objects or equipment accounts for 25 percent of all nonfatal injuries. In 2013, 717 people died because of an injury sustained from contact with objects and equipment.
How to prevent workplace injuries
While some injuries are accidents, most workplace injuries can be prevented. Below are tips for preventing workplace injuries:
Overexertion and bodily reaction. To help prevent these types of injuries, implement ergonomics, fitting a job to a person. Ergonomics can help lessen muscle fatigue and increase productivity. Also, using carts and tables to move heavy objects can help prevent these injuries.
Falls, slips and trips. These injuries can cause fractures, sprains, strains and tears. To prevent these injuries, address areas that are unclean and cluttered, slippery areas that don’t have non-slip rugs or uneven walkways that aren’t labeled. Staircases should have handrails on both sides. If a spill occurs, it should be addressed immediately and employees should be taught what to do when a spill occurs.
Contact with object or equipment. To prevent these injuries, a workplace should be evaluated for objects or equipment that don’t have barriers or equipment. Employees should be trained on how to recognize potential dangers.
What do if you’ve been injured at work
Employees have a right to a safe workplace. Federal law requires that employers provide their employees with danger-free working conditions. If you are injured at work, you should alert your employer immediately. Some states require employees to report their injuries within a certain time frame or their workman’s compensation claim could be denied. Reporting injuries at work can keep you from getting injured further or can help an employer address an unsafe working condition.
After reporting an injury to your employer, you should seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can help you determine what contributed to your injury, help you prove if your workplace condition caused your injury and help you heal faster.