Workplace injuries include everything from muscle strains and sprains to severe chemical burns and lacerations. The majority of work-related accidents are preventable when employers are committed to a safe working environment in which workers are provided with proper safety training and equipment.
Unfortunately, accidents still happen due to negligence, and they can leave a person with serious injuries that require expensive medical care and threaten their ability to return to work or maintain their current standard of living. Some work injuries can even lead to fatalities, especially when they involve vehicles or heavy equipment.
Even though the number of workplace injuries over the years has ebbed and flowed, the number of people who require workers’ compensation benefits while they recover from their injuries remains quite high.
In fact, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in the U.S in 2020. That’s a 5.7 percent decrease compared to the 2.8 million cases reported in 2019.
While this lower number is encouraging, it still doesn’t represent a significant decrease, considering that many workers went remote that year.
Now that more people are returning to in-person work, it’s worth exploring the most common workplace injuries that occur across all industries and what you should do if a work injury happens to you or a loved one.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), slips, trips and falls remain the leading cause of workplace accidents, accounting for 27 percent of the nonfatal workplace injuries reported in 2019.
Many fall-related injuries result from preventable accidents that occur when an employee attempts to walk across a wet floor or in dimly lit areas. Cluttered workspaces can also contribute to accidents that lead to health conditions such as traumatic brain injuries as well as fractures.
Being struck by heavy objects
People who work in the construction, mining and manufacturing industries are the most likely to be struck by a heavy or fast-moving object at work. However, workers in many different environments are at risk of these types of injuries. Even a school teacher could accidentally be struck by an object that is thrown by a student during recess.
Being struck by a heavy object can lead to injuries such as severe bruises, bleeding, brain damage and lacerations depending upon where and how the person gets hit.
Repetitive stress injuries
Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to come to mind when someone mentions repetitive stress injuries, but there are other forms that affect workers. For example, someone in the construction and manufacturing industries might develop tendonitis in their arms or legs from repeatedly doing the same motions all day.
Repetitive stress injuries may be mild enough for an employee to recover within a relatively short time frame, but they can also lead to nerve damage that lasts a lifetime.
Sprains and strains from heavy lifting
Back injuries frequently lead to workers’ compensation claims, and you could also experience severe strains in your neck, shoulders and arms that impact your ability to continue working in the same position.
Following the proper protocols for lifting heavy objects and using supportive equipment and teamwork are helpful tips for preventing this type of injury. Even with these steps in place, however, workers who are frequently required to carry and lift heavy objects can still suffer from injuries and chronic pain that affects their ability to perform their work duties over time.
Motor vehicle crashes
Sadly, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, with 1778 fatal cases being reported in 2020. These accidents include vehicles used in industries such as construction, transportation and delivery services. While the number of fatal occupational accidents is currently lower than it was a few years ago, there is still work to be done to reduce that rate even further.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to an accident at work, death benefits, including compensation for funeral expenses, loss of future wages, and other damages, are available. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can talk to you about your rights under Montana law.
When to contact a Montana workers’ comp attorney
Although millions of people are injured at work each year, it’s common to feel alone when you experience a work-related injury of your own. Healing physically and emotionally from your injury is expensive and takes time. The unfortunate truth is that some people may never experience a full recovery.
If you get hurt on the job, you have the right to compensation, but you have to abide by certain procedures and there are time limits on how long you have to file a claim. That’s why it’s always best to consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney to ensure your rights are protected.