Morgan & Morgan provides legal counsel to employees injured while on the job. Here are some of the most common workplace accidents we see.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls occur frequently. Recently mopped floors, liquid spills, and untreated areas of snow and ice can result in a person slipping unintentionally. Trips occur when the flooring is cracked or unstable or when carpeted areas become bunched.
Employees and contractors whose work requires them to use ladders or scaffolding can experience falls when the equipment isn’t adequately maintained. Lack of compliance with safety protocols also results in falls.
Not every slip and fall accident results in serious injury. Some employees only have minor scrapes and bruises from a slip and fall accident. However, severe slip and fall injuries require immediate emergency room treatment and ongoing medical therapy. Serious injuries can take months or years to heal.
Employees who work in veterinary offices, pet stores, and other places where they regularly interact with animals can easily be bitten or otherwise harmed by animals.
Veterinarians and their assistants hold animals for vaccinations and medical treatment, and the animals aren’t always happy. They may express their frustration through bites or scratches.
Similarly, pet store workers and animal volunteers are responsible for feeding and caring for dogs, cats, snakes, birds, hamsters, and other animals. Unruly animals can harm an employee who isn’t expecting an attack.
Animal bites can result in serious cuts and lacerations. Some animals emit substances that can be toxic to humans. Animal bites sometimes require emergency treatment.
Muscle Strains and Sprains
Workers who regularly lift heavy objects can experience muscle strain. An employee who lifts heavy objects repeatedly can do so for years before succumbing to a sudden back or neck injury.
Even people who are in good shape experience muscle strains and sprains. Sudden turns or lifting an object that’s heavier than it appears can result in muscle injuries.
Most muscle strains and sprains are minor and require a few days to heal, but serious injuries require rehabilitation. In severe cases, the employee may be unable to perform their regular duties for several weeks or months.
Motor Vehicle Crashes
Motor vehicle crashes occur both on the job and away from it. The CDC has found car and truck collisions to be the primary cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. In 2019, over 12 million vehicles were involved in traffic crashes. Of those involved in collisions, between two and three million people suffered from impact-related injuries.
Automobile crashes can cause minor to severe injuries. Common injuries sustained in an auto wreck include whiplash, broken bones, cuts, and internal organ damage. Motor vehicle crashes don’t just hurt the vehicle’s driver or passengers—they also injure pedestrians.
Injuries caused by falling objects are common in construction sites and warehouses. An object typically falls because it’s not secured according to workplace protocols. Falling objects are unexpected and lead to severe injury or even death, especially when they are heavy.
Warehouses frequently store large cartons of materials and products on shelves. Heavy objects like motors, wood, and steel are commonplace in manufacturing warehouses. Construction sites often have unsecured railings, bricks, and scaffolding.
Workers don’t expect to be injured by falling objects. After all, people don’t often look up to prevent danger. When an object falls, there isn’t much time to get out of the way, especially if the employee doesn’t realize what’s happening.
Falling objects can result in cuts, broken bones, and head or neck injuries. Visits to the emergency room or urgent care center for treatment are typical.
Those who work in industries with regular exposure to chemicals are at risk of inhaling toxic fumes. Chemicals are hazardous, especially when the employee doesn’t wear proper protection. Workplaces that house chemicals and use them for manufacturing or other processes require employees to wear safety goggles with nose protection.
Issues arise when employees remove their safety protection in places that contain toxic chemicals. Even just a few minutes around a toxic chemical can be enough to cause a severe injury or even death.
Workers exposed to poisonous chemicals must seek medical treatment. In some cases, they require treatment from a doctor trained explicitly in toxin exposure.
Loud Noise Exposure
Employees who work in environments where loud noises are common must wear ear protection. Regular exposure to loud noises can cause long-term hearing damage. In the worst cases, employees could lose part or all of their hearing if they don’t take the appropriate protective measures.
Loud noise exposure is typical in air traffic control, law enforcement, construction, and the military. Individuals who work with machinery or in the music industry may also suffer hearing damage.
Treatment for hearing damage is limited. Hearing aids can help, but full recovery is often impossible unless the loud noise was a one-time event.
Electrocution is a common injury, especially for workers whose regular duties require them to be around cables and wires. Electricians, construction workers, and utility workers are most likely to be electrocuted on the job.
People who work in positions that involve interaction with electrical cables and wires must be conscientious about following proper workplace procedures to protect themselves.
Electrocution effects range from mild injuries to death. Treatment involves checking for burns and cardiac damage. The higher the voltage of the cable or wire, the more likely severe injury will occur.
Entanglement/Machinery Crush Injuries
Employees who regularly work with complicated heavy machinery can be crushed by the equipment. Making the wrong decision when handling the equipment can lead to a lost limb or crush injury. Employees who work around heavy machinery must be careful not to wear clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the equipment.
Training is essential to prevent machinery crush injuries. Workers who don’t take their responsibilities seriously or don’t handle the machine with care are more likely to experience severe or fatal injuries. Organizations can help prevent entanglement and crush injuries by placing warning signs and barriers around the machinery.
Walking Into Objects
Distraction can lead to unintended workplace injuries. Employees focused on other activities, like cell phones or talking to others while walking, can fall over non-moveable objects or crash into walls. Workers who collide with solid objects may experience bruises, bumps, or broken bones.
Paying attention to one’s surroundings is essential for preventing these injuries. Workers must make sure that they only use phones when seated or standing still and scan their surroundings while walking and talking with others.
Incidents of workplace violence seem to occur more frequently these days. The news regularly reports violence at schools, offices, shopping centers, and restaurants around the country.
Sometimes workplace violence arises because of an event that aroused anger in the perpetrator, while other times, it’s independent of any particular circumstance.
Violence is one of the most dangerous types of accidents in the workplace. Victims can incur cuts, gunshot wounds, broken bones, and brain injuries. Since workplace violence is often random, it’s difficult to prevent. Employees should plan potential escape routes in case an episode of workplace violence occurs.
Workplaces often shrug off injuries associated with repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. However, repetitive motion injuries are severe and may require surgery to treat.
Fortunately, repetitive motion injuries are preventable with appropriate ergonomic equipment.
Individuals susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome must take extra care not to overuse their wrists when typing on the computer or carrying heavy objects. Regular breaks and typing equipment that encourages users to relax their wrist muscles have proven helpful in preventing repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
The best way to prevent workplace injuries is through employee training and safety equipment. Organizations owe employees a safe environment where they can perform their daily responsibilities. Providing employees with the information and materials necessary to do so is critical.
Preventing workplace injuries is also an employee’s responsibility. Workers must use appropriate safety equipment and stay focused on the job while at work. Keeping cell phones at their desks while performing other duties reduces the potential for distraction-related injuries.