Top Workplace Hazards
Workplace hazards exist in all types of work environments, from factories to offices. Additionally, some industries-particularly those that expose employees to toxic chemicals-are more prone to work illness.
You may be asking yourself, "Who needs workers' compensation?" Workers' compensation provides employees injured on the job with a variety of benefits, including money for medical bills and disability payments. In fact, in every state most employers are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance.
Types of Injuries Caused by Workplace Hazards
Workplace hazards can cause a number of types of injuries. In general, there are four injury categories that workers' comp covers:
- Traumatic physical injuries
- Repeated trauma injuries
- Mental injuries
- Occupational disease
Traumatic physical injuries are the most common type of injury and are caused by a single incident. Repeated trauma injuries occur over time and can be caused by different types of activities, including repetitious motion. Repeated trauma injuries are common among workers on an assembly line, who must perform the same task over and over again, which can result in tendon and joint pain.
Mental injuries can be tied to physical trauma, such as depression that results from being disabled. It can also result from witnessing another co-worker's accident at work, especially one that is fairly horrific, such as an amputation.
Occupational diseases, such as poisoning from chemicals or other hazardous materials, can also result in workers' comp claims.
Workplace Injury Statistics
To understand some of the top workplace hazards that injure employees every year, it is important to understand just how dangerous the workplace can be.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred at private companies in 2008. Of these, more than one million resulted in employees having to take time off of work.
In total, 416,620 of these injuries involved sprains, strains, and tears. Meanwhile, 222,290 involved back injuries, while 234,840 involved falls.
The number of fatal injuries within the private sector in 2008 was 4,670. Of these, 1,044 occurred on the highway, 658 were caused by falls, and 453 were homicides.
Types of Workplace Hazards
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most common workplace hazards are:
- Abrasive blasting
- Antineoplastic agents
- Asphalt fumes
- Bicycle saddles
- Carbonless copy paper
- Cold stress
- Diesel exhaust in mining
- Electric and magnetic fields
- Electrical accidents in mining
- Explosions and explosives in mining
- Fires in mining
- Hazardous drug exposures in health care
- Heat stress
- Insects, scorpions, and spiders
- Noise in mining
- Poisonous plants
- Respirable dust in mining
- Rock falls in mining
- Take home toxins
- Ultraviolet radiation