Serious workplace injuries happen every day across America. No employer wants to see employees injured while doing their jobs. Unfortunately, accidents happen no matter how much you try to avoid them, but if you are prepared, you will know what to do.
Understanding workplace injuries, taking preventative measures to avoid them, and developing a plan of action in response to an injury are all “must-dos” for good employers.
What are the most common workplace injuries?
The most common workplace injuries are some of the most preventable. Careful planning can help workers avoid injuries that can affect them for the rest of their lives.
1. Slips, trips, and falls
Falls make up roughly one-third of all injuries in the workplace. They are the number one cause of workers’ compensation cases across the United States. Although a trip or slip may seem minor, they can result in serious head or neck injuries, broken bones, or a lot of other health problems.
2. Working with machinery
A machinery accident is not unusual in a factory, construction, or farm setting, but it can happen any place where workers engage with heavy machinery. Getting your body caught in moving equipment can result in long-term debilitation.
3. Vehicle-related accidents
Car accidents happen every day. Some are the result of employees spending time on the road for work-related reasons. Other injuries occur when workers are struck by moving vehicles in a work setting, such as in a warehouse or shipping/receiving area.
4. Fires and explosions
Fires and explosions do not happen often, but when employees work with combustible materials, those workplace accidents can be severe—affecting multiple workers at one time. Burns and respiratory injuries are both common from fire and explosion-related accidents.
5. Overexertion or repetitive stress injuries
Back pain injuries can be costly for employers. They can also lead to a substantial number of lost work days. These injuries are expensive and linger for a long time. They are often caused by repetitive tasks like lifting or moving heavy equipment or material without proper form.
How can workplace injuries be reduced?
You can take simple steps to make the workplace safer for your team. Below are a few suggestions that you can implement today.
- Ensure work areas are free from hazards like debris and liquids
- Encourage workers to use proper gear to help prevent slip and fall injuries (employers can also provide this gear in some situations)
- Ensure employees have proper training when working near machinery
- Teach employees to observe warning signs and follow proper procedure when using equipment and other machinery (including lockout tag-out procedures)
- Make evacuation plans if your business uses hazardous materials that can result in explosions or chemical exposure
- Instruct workers to use proper lifting, pushing, and pulling techniques
- Inform employees they can take breaks or ask for help with a task as they need it
- Follow OSHA standards regarding workplace safety
- Encourage employees to report safety concerns and empower them to address safety issues
What should employers do if an employee is injured on the job?
When an employee is injured on the job, the employer should keep the health and safety of the employee in mind. Be sure they get immediate medical attention if they need it.
Employers need to report the injury to the workers’ compensation carrier as soon as possible. There are reporting requirements that must be met so an employee’s injury will be properly processed by workers’ compensation insurance. Most policies have a very short reporting window—often within just a few days.
Some states also require that you report the injury to state agencies or federal agencies like OSHA. For example, where an injury leads to a fatality, OSHA must be notified within eight hours. OSHA must also be notified if there is an injury that results in hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss.
How do I document an employee’s workplace injury?
Every employer should have a method to document workplace injuries. Some states and federal agencies may require specific forms to report these injuries, but you should have an internal record as well. This report can be kept in the employee’s personnel file for reference as needed in the future.
A Work Injury Report helps the employer interview an injured employee about the accident. This type of recordkeeping may be legally required, but it can also help you prevent injuries like this from happening again.
If you have questions about reporting requirements in your area or for your specific industry or situation, speak with a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for affordable legal answers and advice.