The constant pressure of increased productivity can result in a variety of on-the-job injuries.
What Are Work Injuries?
The term “work injury” is used describe any form of harm or illness that befalls an employee while they are on the job. This can range in severity from tendonitis caused by typing at a computer to construction accidents.
Young workers are more than twice as likely as older workers to encounter an injury on the job. This is often a result of lacking experience or proper training as well as inadequate supervision. However, it can also be a result of a lack of education about legal safety rights or an inability to voice concerns. Young males are the most likely to be injured as a result of being assigned riskier tasks.
Types of Work Injuries
There are five common types of work-related injuries:
- Scrapes, cuts & bruises – these are among the most common workplace injuries that can occur when performing everyday tasks
- Sprains & strains – sprains occur when a ligament is stretched or torn while strains happen when the same thing happens to a muscle
- Burns – there are three types of burns: first degree (reddened skin), second degree (blistering) and third degree (white/black charring, deep tissue)
- Dislocations & fractures – these occur when a bone is forced out of place at the joint or is cracked
- Punctures – puncture wounds, such as stepping on a nail, are dangerous due to increased risk of infection
- Amputation – this surgical procedure is necessary when an extremity’s arteries are severely damaged and can no longer receive oxygen, risking infection
These account for nearly 80% of workplace injuries. Injuries can also counterintuitively stem from everyday inactivity in sedentary office jobs.
Common Causes of Work Injuries
The work injuries discussed above can be a result of:
- Repetitive motion – Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) like carpal tunnel syndrome or osteoarthritis are caused by repetitive motions that stress or strain tendons and ligaments
- Vehicle mishaps – these can range from mistakes while operating heavy machinery to car accidents wile traveling for business purposes
- Machine accidents – this form of injury generally occurs when proper precautions are not taken around factory equipment
- Falling/dropped objects – objects that are accidentally dislodged from heights or grips can fall and strike workers on the job
- Violent acts – attacks brought on by personal grievances lead to a significant amount of work injuries
- Overexertion – this injury is most commonly seen in strained back muscles or hernias caused by improper lifting techniques
- Accidental encounter – walking into objects or tripping in a cluttered environment commonly leads to head, knee and foot injuries
Treating Work Injuries
Injuries that take place on the job are overwhelmingly treated in emergency departments and rarely result in hospitalization.
How to Prevent Work Injuries
There are steps that both employees and employers can take to help safeguard against work injuries including:
- Safety guidelines – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) puts forth rules and recommendations about workplace safety that have dramatically reduced the number of work injuries
- Ergonomic equipment – using tools that are specifically designed to reduce strain while engaging in repetitive tasks can dramatically reduce musculoskeletal injuries