Injuries at work have become too common, with more than 3.3 million people injured at work annually. The former Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, once said that each day of the week, 12 people do not return home from work because they are killed on the job. During the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the country saw a decrease in fatal and nonfatal workplace injuries. Unfortunately, workplace injuries and deaths started increasing in 2022. Of the most common injuries in the workplace, most of them are random and can happen to any worker at any time of the day. The top three causes of workplace injuries involve entanglement with machines, overexertion, and slips, trips, or falls. These and other workplace injury examples are discussed in the following sections.
One of the most common workplace injuries occurs when a worker is entangled in machinery at a factory or other workplace where massive machinery is present. Most workers get stuck in the machinery due to loose clothing, long hair, or untied shoelaces. Each worker should take extra time each day to make sure nothing on his or her person can become tangled in the machines.
Entanglement with machinery also includes injuries caused by contact with machines. Here are examples of the type of contact that can result in a worker being injured by machinery:
- Being squeezed between two pieces of equipment,
- Being hit by heavy falling equipment,
- Frequently operating a vibrating machine,
- Being pushed into a machine, and
- Walking into a wall or machine.
Make sure you are familiar with your company’s safety instructions to help protect yourself from a workplace injury. Also, pay extra attention to your workplace surroundings to try to avoid bumping into machines and other objects.
Some of the most serious workplace injuries are caused by falling objects. These objects can be dropped by other workers, fall from shelves, or fall from scaffolding on construction sites. Construction workers often suffer injuries caused by falling objects. Head injuries, such as concussions, are the most common injuries suffered when objects fall at work. However, injuries may also include paralysis, disfigurement, and broken bones.
When you show up at work each day, try to perform an inspection to reduce the chances of objects falling. During the inspection, look for things such as:
- Tools and materials close to the edge of shelves or work areas,
- Structural soundness to identify a potential collapse, and
- Debris improperly left on shelves or scaffolding.
If you work on a construction site, make sure you always wear your hard hat.
Another common workplace injury comes from repetitive motion such as typing all day while at work or using one of your arms to turn a knob each day. These types of injuries are not in the forefront of our minds, but they can be devastating. Workers can suffer from torn muscles, damaged tissue, tennis elbow, rotator cuff injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Office and factory workers may be the most well-known category of workers who suffer from repetitive motion injuries. But these types of injuries impact workers across a lot of different industries, including:
- Dental hygienists;
- Tattoo artists;
- Bakers and chefs;
- Bus, truck, or delivery drivers;
- Janitors and housekeepers;
- Computer programmers and developers;
- Grocery workers; and
Repetitive motion injuries can result in decreased mobility or nerve pain, which can significantly affect a worker’s quality of life.
Falls and falls from heights are also relatively common workplace injuries. Workers do not have to fall from a specific height for their injury to be classified as a fall. Workplaces across the country need to have warning signs and other safety measures in place to prevent falls while on the job. These injuries happen when workers fall from roofs, ladders, scaffolding, step stools, or other objects while at work. Falls and falls from heights can lead to broken limbs, sprains, deep cuts, concussions, and sometimes even death.
Construction workers are especially vulnerable to injuries caused by falling. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), recommends employers use at least one of the following types of protection for their workers:
- Guardrail system,
- Safety net system, or
- Personal safety harness.
For more information on ways employers can improve safety in the workplace, review these resources from OSHA.
When workplaces do not keep floors free of water or other liquids, workers can slip and get hurt by bracing themselves on an object or landing in an unnatural position. Another injury that fits into this category is tripping. Trips can be caused by carpets, missing a stair in a stairwell, or a cord that is not properly secured. Here are examples of safety measures your employer can take to prevent slips and trips:
- Tape wires and carpets to make them flush with the floor
- Tuck and hide wires behind furniture or other objects as much as possible,
- Require employees to wear non-slip shoes, and
- Install mirrors in stairways to increase visibility around corners.
To avoid slips and trips in the workplace, try not to rush around the facility. Being aware of your surroundings is always a good way to help prevent injuries.
Workers who pull, lift, push, carry, or throw things while at work can suffer from overexertion injuries if they do not limit themselves properly. Most workplaces have safety programs that specify how much weight employees are allowed to lift in one shot or what type of protective gear they need to wear, such as a back brace. Unfortunately, these safety requirements do not always prevent work-related injuries due to overexertion.
To help avoid injuries caused by overexertion, it is best to use proper lifting techniques and avoid lifting heavy objects without the assistance of a machine. Pushing yourself beyond your physical limits can lead to painful injuries.
Regardless of the type of injury you received, it is critical to report the injury to your employer as soon as it happens. New Jersey workers who are hurt on the job can receive workers’ compensation benefits for their work-related injuries to recover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Filing for workers’ compensation is an intricate process that needs to be followed to the letter to ensure maximum benefits.
Have you or a loved one been injured at work? Talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney at Petro Cohen to learn about compensation available for your injury. Contact Petro Cohen today at 888-675-7607 or fill out an online contact form to schedule your consultation.