Work-related injuries affect many people all around the world. Some are mild and require just a bit of time off work, some cause moderate to severe symptoms, and some are fatal. People may fully recover after an injury, while others experience some degrees of disability long-term.

In the US alone, private industry employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, as per Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2020.

Which occupations are at most risk

Ten occupations accounted for over 38% of all private industry cases that required days off work in 2020. According to the BLS, these ten occupations are

  • nursing assistants,
  • vocational nurses,
  • registered nurses,
  • laborers and freight stock and material movers,
  • heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers,
  • maintenance and repair workers,
  • stockers and order fillers,
  • and retail salespersons.

woman in scrub uniform having back pain Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock


Slips, Trips, and Falls

Losing one's footing, getting the foot caught on or in something, and taking a sudden tumble constitute some of the most common workplace injuries and are a major cause of workers compensation claims. Wet areas that may have not been marked, spills, ice, snow, and rain can all cause these injuries, as well as ladders, loose mats, and rugs.

Close up of a businessman legs stumbling with an electrical cord at office Cunaplus_M.Faba / Getty Images


Sprains and Strains

Sometimes tripping and falling just results in minor skin abrasions or bruises. In many cases, though, these accidents cause musculoskeletal injuries like sprains and strains. More severe injuries cause fractures. Poor lighting and cluttered places increase the risk of more serious injury. Employees should notify the employer if they notice any lights off, cluttered places, or other potential safety issues at the workplace.

Worker with sprained ankle on the floor Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images


How To Prevent Sprains and Strains

Employees often have to undergo safety training when they start a new job, learning how to recognize and possibly correct dangers in the workplace, and how to correctly use protective equipment if necessary.

Especially in jobs at warehouses and similar buildings, they might need to use ladders and other potentially hazardous equipment, and it's vital they follow that training closely to avoid injuries. Even something as simple as holding onto the railing as coming up and down the stairs can help prevent workplace injury.

Worker Climbing Up lisafx / Getty Images


Repetitive Strain and Overexertion Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries are common in the workplace, often due to frequent use of computers and keyboards. These injuries can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, and low back pain or vision problems. Sitting in the chair for long hours without breaks and having poor posture can cause additional problems.

Unfortunately, these conditions develop over a period of years, so they often aren't immediately evident. Employee training and ergonomic equipment can reduce the negative impact of repetitive activities and the likelihood of injury. Physiotherapists can create exercise programs for daily use.

woman in front of computer with wrist pain bymuratdeniz / Getty Images


Car Accidents

Workers like truck drivers and those who deliver in-home products and services spend a lot of time driving. Most car accidents are minor, causing sprains or strains. However, some can lead to life-threatening injuries, permanent disability, or even death. All drivers should get proper training, wear seatbelts, follow the traffic laws, and stay vigilant. Sadly, no one can control how other drivers drive and accidents happen.

 Damaged bumpers from car accident Peter Stark / Getty Images


Hit By Falling Objects

This injury is common for workers in retail and warehouses professions. Products can fall from the shelves or be dropped by other employees. Often, the resulting accident is minor. However, serious head injuries do occur, causing cuts, lacerations, concussions, and lasting vision problems. Employees should follow the training material regarding how to store these objects and how to prevent injuries, and employers should ensure their workers aren't feeling rushed.

Worker dropping boxes in shipping area Paul Bradbury / Getty Images


What Employers Do To Prevent Work-Related Injuries

Employers should take the safety of their employees very seriously. Federal law entitles all employees to a safe workplace, and the employer is responsible for keeping the workplace free from health and safety hazards.

For this reason, most employers are careful to offer safety and health training and provide machines that are safe to use and special equipment as needed. They need to track any injury and illness, review the record, and closely monitor employees that get injured.

Business woman gives safety presentation at office fstop123 / Getty Images


About Safety and Health Complaints

No one should get injured or killed due to working for their paycheck. Employees should always feel empowered to lodge issues they notice with someone in a supervisory role, including reporting any safety issues or health hazards. Any employee can file a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) by calling a toll-free number 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).

workers talking about forklift driver Fertnig / Getty Images


Workers Compensation Benefits

Anyone injured at work should report the injury to the employer as soon as possible and seek medical treatment. The claim must be evaluated in a timely manner, usually within a few weeks, and is then either approved or denied. If approved, worker’s compensation benefits replace part of the wages the employee would have regularly earned and cover some or all of the injury-related medical care. In addition, workers' compensation may cover job training if an employee can no longer perform their old job and needs to find a new one, either at their current company or elsewhere.

If a worker makes an injury claim and it is denied, they do have the right to legally contest the denial and have it reexamined.

Workers' Compensation form with pen and glasses Bill Oxford / Getty Images


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