Cases of workers getting injured, falling ill or dying in the course of work remains a big concern to employers, employees and occupation safety authorities. The seriousness of workplace injury is heightened by consequences such as workers compensation, low productivity and workplace citations. When workers become ill, get injured or die, the cost impact is often felt beyond the workplace. According to statistics released by OSHA in 2012, over 4.1 million workers suffer work related illnesses or injury every year and another 4,500 die from workplace related fatalities.
In terms of cost, the annual cost of documented workplace fatalities stood at $40 billion in 2010. This estimate doesn’t include the cost of treating nonfatal injuries or occupational illnesses such as, tendonitis, occupational asthma, occupational dermatitis and Hepatitis B and C. The same source reveals that 60,000 people died from occupational illnesses in 1997. According to an article published by the Houston Chronicle, workplace injuries and fatalities can be contained if employers and employees follow the laid down safety precautions. Employers are also encouraged to institute safety training.
Types of Workplace injuries
The degree of injury suffered by workers in the workplace largely depends on the location of the injury and the gravity of the injury. According to various online sources, the most common types of workplace injuries include:
1. Head Injuries
Head injuries can cause permanent brain damage, disfiguring scars and debilitating effects such as difficulties moving and loss of body function. The most common types of head injuries in the workplace include traumatic brain injuries, concussions, facial laceration and facial and skull fractures.
2. Soft Tissue Injuries
These types of injuries may be hard to detect because symptoms may be subdued or appear several days after the injury. Since soft injuries are sometimes not be visible externally, the injuries may point to something serious. The common symptoms of soft tissue injuries include swelling and pain. In case of sprain or strain, the ache is likely to disappear after a few days. Soft tissue injuries in the neck, shoulder, back, hand and wrist tend to affect parts of the body that are frequently turned or twisted.
3. Bone Injuries
Serious bone injuries can be debilitating and painful at the same time because they usually take a lot of time to heal. The two main categories of bone injuries suffered by workers include dislocated joints or bones and broken bones.
4. Neck and Back Injuries
This type of injury can cause serious pain to the affected person. The injury can lead to partial or complete loss of function. The most prescribed remedies for treating neck and back injuries include surgery and occupational therapy care. Most workers’ compensation claims for neck and back injuries often involve spinal cord injuries, herniated discs, whiplash and broken vertebrae.
5. Repetitive Stress Injuries
Recurring stress injuries are caused by repeated movements. This type of injury can cause damage to the tendons, muscles, nerves and other soft body tissues. If the injury is very serious, the patient may require surgery or become permanently disabled.
With regards to burns, accidents that cause burns in the workplace often arise from chemical spills and explosions. The pain from burns can be fatal if the effects run through the bones and muscles.
7. Crushed Limb Injuries
Crushed limbs accidents and injuries are mostly caused by heavy duty machinery such as punch press. The injury could result in loss of limbs and disfiguration as well as partial or permanent disability. Depending on the employer’s decision and level of injury, a worker injured from crushed limbs may be confined to light duty.
What to do when you are injured in the workplace
When a worker is injured at the workplace, there is a clear procedure, the employee needs to follow. According to the Workers Compensation Board (WCB), the first thing an employee needs to do seek medical treatment at once. In case the injury is not qualified as an emergency, the health care provider needs to get express directions from the workers’ compensation Board on how to proceed. Once this is clarified, the employee needs to alert the supervisor immediately about the injury and cause of the injury.
This information should be relayed to the supervisor within a stipulated time frame, failure to which the employee may lose his or her right to workers’ compensation. A person who is injured in the workplace may be eligible for a number of compensations or claims, including disability benefits, medical care and vocational rehabilitation. During treatment, the injured worker needs to follow the doctor’s directives and attend all the requested examinations as well as court hearings if requested.
OSHA (Retrieved January 2012): https://www.osha.gov/dsg/InjuryIllnessPreventionProgramsWhitePaper.html
The Houston Chronicle (Retrieved 08/09/2016): http://smallbusiness.chron.com/workplace-injury-precautions-10693.html
Workers Compensation Board (Retrieved 08/09/2016): http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/onthejob/OnTheJobInjury.jsp