What Is An Occupational Injury

Occupational Injury

According to ILO (International Labour Organization); An occupational injury is defined as any personal injury, disease or death resulting from an occupational accident; an occupational injury is therefore distinct from an occupational disease, which
is a disease contracted as a result of an exposure over a period of time to risk factors arising from work activity.


Examples Of Occupational Injury/Illness

  • Sprains, Strains, and Tears
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Overexertion
  • General Soreness and Pain
  • Bruises and Contusions
  • Cuts, Lacerations, and Punctures
  • Fractures, etc.

An occupational injury could be:

  • Fatal (as a result of occupational accidents and where death occurred within one year of the day of the accident) or
  • Non-fatal with lost work time.

How To Compute The Different Occupational Injuries Incidence Rate

Fatal occupational injuries incidence rate =
Number of new cases of fatal occupational injuries during the reference period x 100’000 / Number of workers in the reference group

Non-fatal occupational injuries incidence rate =
Number of new cases of non-fatal occupational injuries during the reference period x 100’000 / Number of workers in the reference group


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What is the difference between an occupational injury and an occupational illness?

An occupational injury is an injury which results from an occupational accident and is immediate, while occupational disease is a condition that develops over time as a result of work performed (Occupation). Examples of occupational diseases are carpal tunnel syndrome, asbestos lung disease, vibration white finger, dermatitis, etc.

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It has been estimated that there are more than 350,000 workplace fatalities and more than 270 million workplace injuries annually worldwide. In 2000 there were approximately 2.9 billion workers worldwide. Occupational injuries resulted in the loss of 3.5 years of healthy life for every 1,000 workers. 300,000 of the occupational injuries resulted in a fatality.

The most common occupations associated with these hazards vary throughout the world depending on the major industries in a particular country. Overall, the most hazardous occupations are in farming, fishing, and forestry. In more developed countries, construction and manufacturing occupations are associated with high rates of spine, hand, and wrist injuries.

Also, statistics reveal that the body parts that are most commonly affected by occupational injuries are the head, skeleton, spine, hands and lungs.


Occupational accidents do not only cause great pain, suffering and death to victims, but also to their dependents. Occupational accidents also result in:

  • Loss of skilled and unskilled but experienced labour
  • Material loss, i.e. damage to machinery and equipment as well as spoiled products
  • Costs of medical care, payment of compensation and repairing or replacing damaged machinery and equipment.


However, since there are lots of negative effects of occupational injury, it pertinent that we prevent it.

They can be prevented by anticipation of problems using risk assessment, safety training, control banding, personal protective equipment safety guards, mechanisms on machinery, safety barriers, etc.