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Common Workplace Injuries: 3 Likely Ways to Get Hurt (2024 Update)

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Getting hurt on the job sucks. It’s a hassle and leads to lost wages and lost productivity. Despite that, there were an estimated 1.8 million Americans who missed work due to an injury suffered on the job in 2020. With so many people getting hurt at work, it begs the question, what are the most common workplace injuries? Are workplace injuries avoidable? How serious are they?

This quick overview will go over the top three most common types of workplace injury plus injuries that are becoming more common. It also covers some basic ways to try and avoid being injured on the job and some of the more uncommon injuries to look out for. By the end, you will know all of the most common types of workplace injury in America.

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The 3 Most Common Types of Workplace Injuries

1. Overexertion or Bodily Reaction

The most common type of injury experienced at work is overexertion or bodily reactions. These types of incidents include severe fatigue, heat stroke, nausea from exertion, cramps, and back injuries. These injuries occur from repeated use of a single body part or long hours doing the same task. According to the data, the most common professions to suffer these types of injuries are transportation and warehouse work. These types of injuries can result in a single day or multiple weeks missed from work depending on the severity of the exertion.

Taking regular breaks can help to reduce the rate of overexertion at work. That is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has worked to make periodic breaks mandatory by law. Still, some workers or employers choose to ignore the law and the recommendations and push through mandatory rest periods leading to injury.

injury at work
Image Credit: WUT.ANUNAI, Shutterstock

2. Slips, Trips, and Falls

Another common source of workplace injuries are slips, trips, and falls. These injuries occur in a variety of different settings. It’s estimated that 18% of all workplace injuries are related to trip and fall incidents. Tripping over an extension cord at work and twisting your ankle is in the same category as falling from a scaffolding on a job site. Workers over the age of 55 are the most likely to suffer from injuries due to falling. Agricultural workers are also heavily represented for this type of injury. The easiest way to avoid tripping and falling is to ensure that the floors are clear of debris and hazards and to follow all safety recommendations if on a ladder or scaffolding.

3. Contact with Objects

The last type of injury that is extremely common is contact with objects. This includes injuries that result from contact with a power tool like a saw. It also includes being struck by a moving or falling object, such as a box or forklift. Being aware of your surroundings is a good way to try to avoid having contact with an object that could cause injury. Getting cut on the job is a common injury that is typically classified as contact with an object.

Injury when working with a saw
Image Credit: CSMaster, Shutterstock

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Rising Injury Rates Due to a Paradigm Shift

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two categories of injury that were previously very uncommon are making gains. The first is exposure to harmful substances or environments. This is the category that people who missed work due to COVID-19 fell into. According to the National Safety Council (NSC) this was the #1 category for injury at work in 2020. There is some debate about whether catching COVID-19 at work counts as a workplace injury, but some databases say yes. If that is the case, then exposure to harmful substances or environments is a category that has rocketed to the top of the list.

Before the pandemic, this category included exposure to things like toxic waste, radiation, and electricity. Now, it also includes viruses. Millions of Americans missed work due to COVID-19 in 2020.

Another category that has been rising in prominence and making headlines is injury due to violence at work. Violence between coworkers or employees and customers is causing more trouble than ever before. Workplace shootings, fights, and confrontations that result in injury or death contribute to this category. Violence at work is still fairly rare, but recent data suggests that it is becoming a more persistent problem than in the past.

Other Common Injuries

The categories mentioned make up the vast majority of workplace injuries. Basic things like tripping and falling and cutting your hand make up most workplace injuries. But there are more obscure and uncommon injuries that occur, but in smaller numbers.

Other common workplace injuries include:

  • Transportation incidents like car crashes
  • Burns
  • Accidental explosions
  • Injury from contact with animals
  • Uncategorized or injuries that occur in overlapping categories
motorcycle accident and car crash
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Tips for Avoiding Workplace Injuries

Getting injured at work is a hassle for everyone involved. Usually, insurance or workers comp must become a mediator. Workers lose time and experience on the job and are often paid less than healthy employees. Employers have to fill gaps and pay out sick leave or injury pay while getting no work in return. The best thing to do is to try to avoid getting injured on the job in the first place.

Here are some basic ways to avoid injuries at work:

  • Follow employer safety recommendations and rules at all times
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Keep workspaces clean and tidy, free from hazards and debris
  • Take regular breaks, especially if working in extreme heat or cold or in a repetitive setting
  • Keep a high level of concentration and focus while working with dangerous tools or materials
  • Wear appropriate equipment or standard uniforms

Most employers and supervisors have safety guidelines for each specific position offered. Follow those. These tips will help you avoid workplace injuries while on the job and will help keep you healthy at work.

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The most common workplace injury is overexertion and bodily reactions. These injuries occur from repeated use of a single body part or from working with few breaks or inappropriate hydration. Other common injuries include things like tripping, cutting yourself, and being injured by a tool. Workplace injuries are largely mundane and highly avoidable in most situations. Pay attention and follow the safety guidelines for your place of work, and you will be able to avoid many potential injuries.



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