Every person has the right to a safe workplace. However, workplace injuries are far too common an occurrence. In 2010, over 4,500 American workers were killed on the job while millions more suffered serious non-fatal injuries. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis wrote, “Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”
Individuals injured in the workplace have a right to pursue compensation through a workmen’s compensation claim but they may also have a right to file a lawsuit against a third party responsible for causing the accident in some way.
Workmen’s Compensation Claims
The top 10 reported worker’s compensation injuries as listed by insurance carriers:
- Overexertion Injuries – This refers to injuries resulting from pulling, lifting, pushing, carrying, or throwing activities at work. Overexertion has consistently been the number one workplace injury and according to the insurance companies, also the most costly.
- Slipping/Tripping – This refers to instances where an employee falls on wet or slippery floors or trips over an object lying on the floor. Employers should have safety guidelines to ensure spills are cleaned and debris is removed promptly.
- Falling from Heights – This type of fall happens from an elevated area such as roofs, ladders, and stairways. They can be caused by slip and fall accidents or due to faulty equipment. These types of accidents can be reduced by the use of proper personal protection gear, training and employee diligence.
- “Reaction” Injuries – This refers to incidents where the injury is the result of the employee slipping or tripping and reacting instinctively to prevent a fall. People often refer to these types of incidents as “flukes” or “freak” accidents but they may result in very significant physical harm such as muscle tears or pulls, whiplash or back pain.
- “Falling Object” Injuries – This type of injury is the result of an individual being stuck by an object that falls from somewhere above. The object may have fallen from a shelf or scaffold or have been dropped by a coworker or other individual. Almost always the injuries resulting from this type of accident are serious or lethal.
- “Walking Into” Injuries – This type of injury occurs when a person accidentally walks into or collides with a solid object such as a wall, door, cabinet, glass window, table, or chair to name a few of the more common culprits. Employer attention to maintaining a hazard-free work environment is key to preventing these types of injuries.
- Vehicle Accidents – Employees who drive for business purposes are often injured in auto accidents, some of which can be fatal. Employee Safe-Driver training and employer safe driving policies are likely to reduce accidents.
- Machine Entanglement – This type of injury usually occurs in a factory where heavy equipment and machinery are used. Clothing, shoes, fingers and hair are by everyday equipment when no precaution is taken. Protective equipment and attention to personal details are necessary to avoid these incidents.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries – This type of workplace injury is distinct from the aforementioned types of injury because the cause of the injury is an activity which in itself is not typically harmful, such as typing and extended computer usage. However, that same activity repeated over a long period of time may result in physical harm manifested in various ways such as carpal tunnel syndrome or eye strain.
- On the Job Violent Acts – Attacks caused by disagreements between coworkers or disgruntled customers have on occasion led to serious physical injuries. The incidents of workplace violence are rare but unfortunately remain a potential hazard.
If you or someone you know has been injured while at work or while performing work related duties while off-site, you should speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. For more information, visit our section on Workplace Injuries.