It doesn’t matter whether you’re operating heavy machinery or sitting at a desk all day—all jobs come with some risk of a workplace injury. Sure, jobs that require manual labor or machine operation come with a higher risk, but the most common workplace injuries are ones that could happen in just about any industry.
In 2012, there were 1.15 million workplace accidents that resulted in injuries causing workers to take time off. And when I say injuries, I don’t just mean something like a paper cut that an employee could bandage and then ignore for the rest of the day. The average number of days taken off due toinjury was 9—clearly not good for employers or employees. So what do you need to watch out for if you want to keep from being injured on the job?
Business Insider reports that 22% of all workplace injuries are caused by overexertion in lifting and lowering. Even objects that might not seem all that heavy to a worker at first can cause injury if they are lifted or set down the wrong way. Apparently not everyone is paying attention to the advice, “Lift with your legs, not your back”.
Workers can’t always be faulted for overexertion accidents though. If your boss asks them to perform a task that requires lifting, you might feel like you have to do it. Whenever you’re struggling to lift a heavy or awkwardly-shaped item, however, ask for help. It’s not worth risking injury.
Slip and trips without falls, falls on the same level, and falls to a lower level make up a combined 22% of all workplace accidents. Slip and fall accidents can be particularly dangerous to older workers who are more prone to breaking bones. In order to minimize the risk of having this type of accident in your workplace, employers and their employees should make sure that spills are immediately cleaned, wet or slippery floors are clearly marked, and potential tripping hazards like electrical cords are kept off of walkways.
A lack of sleep and high stress levels caused by long hours and demands of a job can lead to accidents simply because a worker isn’t able to think clearly. In fact, one Ohio man is suing a hospital after his wife, who worked as a nurse there, was killed in a car accident after coming back from a 12-hour shift. Employers need to be responsible for letting their employees work reasonable hours and take breaks when necessary. At a certain point, productivity decreases and the odds of getting into a workplace accident go up.
Injuries such as sprains, strains, and tears can be caused by a number of different work activities, including kneeling, squatting, lifting, grasping, or even sitting in an awkward posture. Repetitive motions can be particularly detrimental, and workers who engage in the same motions all day (or even just sit at a desk for a long period of time) should set aside break times to walk around and stretch. Employees have the right to take a break if it will help keep them from getting injured, and employers need to recognize that
Of course, there are some accidents that can’t be prevented because they are caused by the employer, coworker, or even a malfunctioning machine. When this type of accident occurs, it’s important that you get the medical attention you need first, then contact a personal injury lawyer who can help you receive the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”