Work-related injuries refer to injuries or illnesses that occur as a result of activities or conditions within the workplace. These injuries can happen in any type of work setting and can range from minor to severe.
Preventing work-related injuries involves implementing proper safety measures, providing adequate training, promoting a culture of safety, and regularly assessing and improving workplace conditions. Employers often have a responsibility to comply with occupational health and safety regulations to create a safe working environment. Additionally, employees play a crucial role in following safety protocols, using personal protective equipment, and reporting hazards to their supervisors.
In this article, we will be highlighting “10 Top Work-Related Injuries and preventive measures”.
10 Top Work-Related Injuries
1. Musculoskeletal Injuries:
These injuries affect the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. They can result from activities such as lifting heavy objects, repetitive motion, or poor ergonomics.
These injuries can result from various factors, including acute trauma, overuse, repetitive motion, or poor ergonomic conditions. Here are some common types of musculoskeletal injuries:
- Strains: A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. This can happen suddenly or develop over time due to overexertion or repetitive movements. Common examples include pulling or tearing a muscle during heavy lifting or sudden twisting.
- Sprains: A sprain involves the stretching or tearing of a ligament, which is the tissue that connects bones to each other. Ligaments stabilize joints, and sprains often occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion. Ankle and wrist sprains are common examples.
- Tendonitis: Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscles to bones. It often results from repetitive motion or overuse of a particular tendon. Common areas affected include the shoulders, elbows (tennis or golfer’s elbow), and knees.
- Bursitis: Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate joints. It can be caused by repetitive motion, prolonged pressure, or trauma. Bursitis commonly affects the shoulders, elbows, and hips.
- Muscle Tears: A muscle tear occurs when muscle fibers are damaged, often due to sudden or excessive force. This can happen during activities such as weightlifting or sports. The severity of muscle tears can vary from mild to severe.
- Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are tiny cracks in bones, usually caused by repetitive impact or overuse. Athletes and individuals involved in activities with repetitive stress on the bones, such as running, may be more prone to stress fractures.
- Herniated Discs: While primarily associated with the spine, herniated discs can also be considered musculoskeletal injuries. They occur when the soft tissue inside a spinal disc pushes through the tougher outer layer, potentially causing nerve compression and pain.
Preventing musculoskeletal injuries involves ergonomic considerations, proper body mechanics, and regular exercise to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
2. Slips, Trips, and Falls:
Accidents involving slips, trips, and falls are common in many workplaces. They can be caused by wet or slippery floors, uneven surfaces, inadequate lighting, or cluttered work areas.
Slips, trips and falls account for one-third of all personal injuries in the workplace, and they are a top cause of all workers’ compensation claims. The types of injuries incurred include head, back and neck injuries, broken bones, cuts, sprains and pulled muscles.
Slips: Occasional spills, wet or oily surfaces, weather hazards like icy steps or walkways, and loose rugs.
Trips: Poor lighting, clutter, wrinkled carpeting or mats, uncovered cables, and uneven walking surfaces.
To preventing these types of workplace accidents, you should adopt good housekeeping, quality walking surfaces and proper footwear. Beyond that, employees should be encouraged to report areas where clutter, obstruction, spillage or damage have occurred.
3. Cuts and Lacerations:
Working with tools, machinery, or sharp objects can lead to cuts and lacerations. Inadequate training, improper use of equipment, or lack of safety measures may contribute to these injuries.
Other equipment like Letter openers, box cutters and sharp edges on office equipment have been to know to injure employees to the point of needing a workers’ compensation claim.
Prevention of cuts can begin with proper training for those tools, as well as limiting where and what tools, like box cutters, can be used. Keeping office equipment and furniture in good condition also prevents hazardous edges and unwanted lacerations.
Employees in certain industries, such as food service or manufacturing, may be at risk of burns from hot surfaces, chemicals, or other sources of heat. Electrical burns can also occur in some workplaces.
Burns in the workplace can result from exposure to heat, chemicals, electricity, or radiation. These injuries can vary in severity, ranging from minor to life-threatening. It’s important for employers and employees to be aware of potential burn hazards and take preventive measures to minimize the risk.
Some kind of burns employee could be exposed to are:
a. Thermal Burns: These are the most common type of burns and result from exposure to flames, hot objects, steam, or hot liquids. Industries such as manufacturing, construction, and food service may pose a higher risk of thermal burns. Welding, cooking, and working with hot machinery are examples of activities that can lead to thermal burns.
b. Chemical Burns: Exposure to corrosive chemicals can cause chemical burns. This can happen through direct contact with the skin or eyes, inhalation of fumes, or ingestion of harmful substances. Industries that work with strong acids, bases, or other corrosive materials, such as laboratories or chemical manufacturing facilities, may be at risk for chemical burns.
c. Electrical Burns: Electrical burns result from contact with electrical currents. Workers dealing with electrical equipment or wiring, such as electricians or maintenance personnel, may be at risk. Electrical burns can cause both external injuries at the point of contact and internal injuries as the current passes through the body.
d. Radiation Burns: Workers in certain industries, such as healthcare, nuclear energy, or research, may be exposed to ionizing radiation. Prolonged exposure or accidents can lead to radiation burns. These burns are less common but can be severe and have long-term health effects.
To prevent workplace burns some strategies we can adopt include:
- Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Providing and enforcing the use of PPE, such as heat-resistant gloves, eye protection, and flame-resistant clothing, can help protect workers from burns.
- Employee Training: Ensuring that employees are trained on proper handling of hot materials, use of equipment, and emergency procedures can reduce the risk of burns.
- Apply Safe Work Practices: Implementing and enforcing safe work practices, such as proper storage and handling of chemicals, following electrical safety guidelines, and using caution around hot surfaces, can prevent burn injuries.
- Put Up An Emergency Response Plans: Having clear and effective emergency response plans in place, including first aid procedures and evacuation plans, is crucial for minimizing the impact of burns if they do occur.
In the event of a burn injury, prompt first aid and medical attention are essential. Additionally, reporting incidents and conducting investigations to identify the root causes can help prevent similar incidents in the future.
5. Occupational Diseases:
Some injuries are not immediate but develop over time due to exposure to hazardous substances. This includes respiratory diseases, skin conditions, and other health issues related to workplace exposures.
Occupational diseases, also known as work-related diseases or industrial diseases, are health conditions that result from exposure to specific hazards or risk factors in the workplace. Unlike acute injuries, which may occur due to accidents, occupational diseases often develop gradually over time as a result of prolonged exposure to certain substances or conditions associated with the job. These diseases can affect various organs and systems in the body and may have long-term or chronic effects.
Common examples of occupational diseases include:
- Respiratory Diseases: Exposure to airborne pollutants such as dust, fumes, gases, or harmful particles can lead to respiratory conditions. This category includes diseases like occupational asthma, pneumoconiosis (e.g., black lung disease in coal miners), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Skin Diseases: Contact with irritating substances, allergens, or hazardous chemicals in the workplace can cause skin disorders. Dermatitis and contact dermatitis are common examples.
- Hearing Loss: Prolonged exposure to loud noise in certain industries, such as manufacturing, construction, or aviation, can lead to noise-induced hearing loss.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders: Repetitive motion, poor ergonomics, or exposure to vibrations can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and back injuries.
- Occupational Cancers: Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Asbestos exposure, for example, is associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Neurological Disorders: Some occupations involve exposure to neurotoxic substances, which can lead to neurological disorders. Mercury exposure in certain industrial settings, for instance, can cause neurological damage.
- Infectious Diseases: Workers in healthcare, laboratories, or other settings may be at risk of contracting infectious diseases due to exposure to biological agents. This can include diseases like hepatitis or tuberculosis.
- Occupational Stress and Mental Health Disorders: Chronic stress and exposure to stressful working conditions can contribute to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Preventing occupational diseases involves identifying and controlling workplace hazards, providing appropriate protective measures and equipment, and implementing health and safety programs. Regular monitoring of workplace conditions, health surveillance, and employee education are essential components of preventing and managing occupational diseases.
6. Vehicle-Related Accidents
Wherever there are cars, there is a risk of accidents. Accidents include being hit or run over, falling out of a car, being hit by falling objects from a car and being crushed by or trapped under an overturned car.
The first step to preventing these types of accidents is to identify who is at risk and where and when they are most likely to occur. Only then can prevention measures be more effectively implemented. Workplace design should be a key focus, ensuring that all layout routes always separate pedestrians and vehicles and that any obstructions are clearly visible. Other key elements include directions, speed limits and priority signs.
7. Collisions and Crashes
Driving a forklift, visiting clients in a personal or company car, and operating a trailer are prime examples of collisions and crashes related to work.
Small mobile machinery or vehicle collisions and crashes are not covered under commercial vehicle insurance when the employee is at work, which means these claims can add up to higher workers’ comp insurance premiums.
Accidents and crashes can be prevented with proper background checks, drug testing, and company equipment training. Additionally, encouraging employees to slow down when fatigued on the road can help prevent incidents and accidents.
Evaluating candidates’ driving records, conducting regular drug testing and providing training on company equipment can help prevent collisions and accidents. Encouraging drivers to take breaks when fatigued on the road can also help prevent dangerous incidents and accidents.
8. Struck by Injury
We all walk into sharp edges of countertops or bump into walls, but when you work in high-risk industries, these types of injuries can be much worse. Severe hand injuries, limb or finger injuries, traumatic head injury, stress fractures or full bone break, blindness and more.
Workplace injuries of this nature are commonly caused by:
- Poorly guarded machinery
- Falling tools, debris, or materials
- A part of the worker’s body being caught in a wire or gears
- Dropped loads
- Pressure between the person and the source of the injury
- The tipping over of heavy equipment
- Excessive vibration
- Bumping into an object or equipment
- Being pushed into a hard surface of any kind
- Walking into walls or machinery
9. Fire And Explosions
Workplace explosions and fires are caused by a variety of risk factors, such as defective gas lines, improper storage of flammable materials, or an open flame. The injuries caused by these incidents can range from respiratory damage to various degrees of burns and even mutilation. Workplace explosions and fires make up 3 percent of all workplace injuries and account for the highest injury rate of all likely workplace accidents.
4 types of injuries are commonly associated with this type of accident:
- Primary Blast: These occur due to the effects of pressure on body tissues, affecting ears, lungs and the GI tract.
- Secondary Blast: This occurs when flying objects strike nearby workers.
- Tertiary Blast: High-energy explosions can lift someone off the ground.
- Quaternary Blast: Everything else that happens as a result of an explosion, such as crush injuries, burns and inhalation of toxic substances.
To prevent this type of injury, OSHA recommends following its hazard communication standards to help workers avoid these types of injuries. In addition, material safety data sheets for all chemicals should be kept on hand and employees should be required to wear personal protective equipment at all times.
10. Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments
People who work in noisy places or in the presence of dangerous chemicals can suffer serious damage to the ears, eyes, and skin, as well as to the respiratory system if they are exposed to them without proper protection.
Make sure to read any chemical safety data sheet and wear appropriate ear protection, safety glasses, gloves, and other necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) when exposed to hazardous materials or loud noises.
Those working with or in close proximity to large-scale cleaning teams should also be aware of and recognise the symptoms of bleach poisoning.