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Most Common Causes of On-The-Job Injuries in the United States

Posted in workers compensation on November 4, 2022

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there were approximately 2.6 million non-fatal workplace injuries or illnesses recorded during the latest reporting year on file. Injuries can lead to significant setbacks for victims, including requiring medical treatment, extended physical therapy and rehabilitation, and financial devastation caused by lost wages.

Here, we want to examine some of the most common causes of on-the-job injuries that occur in the United States.

National Workplace Injury Information

Before we delve into the most common causes of workplace injuries, we do want to note that in 2020, the leading cause of workplace injuries or illnesses was exposure to harmful substances or environments. This was previously sixth on the list but jumped to first place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The harmful substance, of course, was the virus.

However, when we examine information available from the National Safety Council, we can see that other common causes of injuries include the following:

  • Overexertion and bodily reaction. Occupations where individuals regularly move around and exert themselves tend to place wear and tear on the body. This can include non-impact injuries resulting from excessive physical force, such as pushing, turning, holding, throwing, or carrying. This can also include repetitive motions, such as micro-tasks, lifting objects on a regular basis, typing, etc.
  • Slips, trips, and falls. These types of injuries can occur in a variety of ways. In some cases, individuals can still be harmed if they slip or trip without falling, with injuries occurring when a worker tries to catch themselves. Most commonly, individuals sustain injuries on falls on the same level, including tripping, slipping, and falling onto the floor or falling into another object on the same level. Finally, falls from one level to another, such as falling through surfaces or falling off ladders or scaffolding, often result in catastrophic injuries. 
  • Contact with objects or equipment. Individuals coming into contact with other equipment can result in significant injuries. This can include moving objects striking a worker, workers striking against various equipment, part of a worker’s body becoming caught in between objects, and even workers becoming injured as a result of equipment vibration.
  • Transportation incidents. Various types of occupations revolve around individuals operating motor vehicles. This can include large commercial trucks, regular passenger vehicles, forklifts, etc. If a vehicle accident occurs, this can result in significant injuries for workers and others.
  • Violence and other injuries caused by individuals or animals. Intentional acts of violence do occur in the workplace, as do unintentional injuries caused by other individuals or animals (most commonly dog bites).

Workers’ Compensation or Third-Party Lawsuit?

Recovering compensation after a workplace injury is crucial. The vast majority of employees in this country are covered by state workers’ compensation laws, and this is a no-fault system. Individuals should be able to recover compensation for their medical bills and some lost wages regardless of who caused the injury. However, there are times when it may be possible to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party, and this opens the door to recovering additional types of compensation. However, third-party lawsuits are more traditional in that the workplace injury victim will have to prove the negligence of the other party.