Top 13 preventable workplace injuries [infographic]

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Help your work comp clients identify and stop these top 13 preventable workplace injuries

  1. Some 2.7 million workers are injured annually; close to 5,000 result in fatalities.
  2. Identify which of these 13 preventable workplace injuries could happen on your jobsite, and steps to take to prevent them.
  3. The 13 greatest hazards range from exhaustion, overexertion and repetitive motion, to injuries caused by fire, hazardous chemicals, elevated falls, entanglement and more.

Each year there are approximately 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses plus close to 5,000 fatalities, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’ve compiled a list of the top 13 preventable workplace injuries and how to prevent them, for you to share with your workers’ compensation clients.  By sharing this content, you just might save a life.

Related: How to improve your safety climate [infographic]

Here are the top 13 to identify and prevent on your worksite:

1. Overexertion

Overexertion occurs when a worker pulls, pushes, lifts or carries objects that are simply too heavy for one person. Insureon says these injuries cost businesses $13.7 billion in 2018 (latest figures available).  Injuries can occur with one incident – or they may accumulate over time.

How to prevent:

  • Train workers on how to properly perform physical tasks like heavy lifting.
  • Provide workers with assistive and ergonomic equipment.
  • Give them adequate break time to rest and recover.

2. Slips, trips and falls

Not only are these probably the most common, but they’re also the easiest to eliminate from top 13 preventable workplace injuries. Whether a slip and fall are caused by recently mopped floors without a warning sign, tracked-in snow, mud, ice or rain, a leaky pipe or a liquid spill, diligence to quickly eliminate them will pay off. Other hazards to watch out for: scattered debris, unsecured cords across walkways, uneven or unstable walking surfaces and poor lighting.

How to prevent:

  • Train workers to always be on the lookout for slip hazards and report them or clean it up themselves immediately.
  • Secure cords across walkways or remove them. Add hazard tape to flooring so they’re easily spotted.
  • Keep walkways and work areas free of floor debris.


3. Elevated falls

In the construction industry, falls from heights are a leading cause of worker deaths. Often they’re caused by poorly built structures or scaffolding, or inadequate/improperly used safety equipment.

How to prevent:

  • Provide fall protection equipment as required by OSHA.
  • Ensure the safety and stability of ladders, harnesses and scaffolding.
  • Make safety training and employee diligence a priority.


4. Struck by moving object/equipment

The most common injury from a fallen object is a head injury. Flying, falling, rolling or swinging objects can cause blunt-force trauma. This can include falling items like building materials or boxes; it also includes injuries from being struck by moving machinery.

How to prevent:

  • Post warning signs where debris most often flies or falls.
  • Stack and store materials safely.
  • Provide protective equipment such as hard hats and googles.
Related: Workplace accidents and best practices for incident reporting


5. Motor vehicle accidents

Whether the injured worker is a pedestrian, driver or passenger, these workers’ comp injuries cost companies over $3 billion annually. Contributing factors can be bad weather, poor lighting, equipment issues and negligent driving.

How to prevent:

  • Stress driver safety: Provide driver training, enforce the use of seatbelts, and reduce time pressure on employees.
  • Monitor drivers regularly to ensure they’re following all safety precautions.


6. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects

One of the most terrifying workplace injuries is entanglement, when a worker’s clothing, hair, or limbs become caught within moving heavy machinery. These accidents typically involve an employee having a body part crushed or caught by a workplace object or piece of equipment. Examples include workers caught by moving machinery or crushed between two heavy objects.

How to prevent:

  • Ensure that employees working with dangerous machinery have proper training before performing serious tasks.
  • Train workers to recognize and address potential hazards.
  • Provide protective equipment and appropriate signage and barriers around potentially dangerous equipment.
  • Remind employees to have no loose clothing, shoes, jewelry or untied hair that could get caught.


7. Struck against object or equipment

These accidents occur when a worker unintentionally runs into or gets pushed into a wall, door, window, cabinet or equipment. The main culprit? Cellphones.

How to prevent:

  • Require workers to maintain a worksite free of clutter and where obstacles and other hazards are clearly marked.
  • Institute a policy that prohibits workers from talking or texting on phones while engaged in work activities.


8. Repetitive motions involving microtasks

Repetitive motion injuries are a type of cumulative trauma caused by excessive repetition of small-range or micro tasks.  Even everyday tasks – such as working on an assembly line or typing or using a mouse at a computer – can pose risks of developing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or neck injuries.  While these are probably the most minor of our list of  13 preventable workplace injuries, they can cause injury leading to surgery.

How to prevent:

  • If an employer is seeing several of these injuries, consider bringing in an ergonomist to determine how to avoid these injuries.
  • Provide ergonomically correct equipment.
  • Encourage workers to take breaks from these repetitive motions – changing up their tasks and taking an actual break.
Related: How to help your clients achieve lower workers’ comp rates


9. Electrocution

Faulty electrical outlets, exposed cords and wires are the main culprits for worker electrocution, along with working around power lines or hitting underground cables while digging.

How to prevent:

  • Ensure all electrical hazards are identified.
  • Ensure all electrical systems and machinery are consistently inspected and maintained.
  • Ensure all workers in the area are warned of the hazards.


10. Fires & explosions

Explosions and fires typically result in one of the highest casualty rates of all workplace accidents. Because of these risks, explosion and fire hazards need to be taken very seriously by employers and workers. Zoro says, “Common fire and explosion hazards in the workplace can include dust buildup on machines, overloaded power sockets, combustible materials like paper and improperly stored flammable liquids. When these dangerous substances are not monitored, they can cause a rapid escalation of fire and promote an explosive environment in the workplace.”

How to prevent:

  • Provide workers with protective gear and make sure it’s used
  • Train workers to monitor any heat and fuel sources, being careful to keep the two separated.


11. Exposure to harmful substances or environments

Working with, or even encountering hazardous chemicals, acids and heavy metals isn’t a rarity in some industries, such as medical, construction and manufacturing.

How to prevent:

  • Proper training is crucial, and it should be ongoing for anyone who may come into contact with the workplaces where these substances are present.
  • Ensure proper equipment is provided and used.
  • Follow OSHA guidelines for handling hazardous materials.


12. Exhaustion

Working long hours, pulling double shifts doesn’t just make a worker tired – it decreases their ability to remain alert and to concentrate on the task at hand. Longer reaction times and poor judgment can result, creating a greater risk of injury.

How to prevent:

  • Ensure all workers take adequate breaks; when inclement weather or additional stresses are present, increase the number and length of breaks.
  • As much as possible, limit overtime hours.


13. Workplace violence

Disputes between workers can result to violence at the jobsite. Employees who deal with the public may face assaults from customers. And violence on the job is growing: OSHA says two million employees are victims of workplace violence each year.

How to prevent:

  • Provide violence training to all employees, including de-escalation tactics.
  • Create communication channels for reporting suspicious activity that safeguard anonymity.

There’s a lot of training and equipment provision needed to protect your workers from these 13 preventable workplace injuries, but a series of injured workers can bankrupt a company. Workplace injuries lower morale and interfere with production, adding extra costs to a company. Our list of prevention tips is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good start to identifying and mitigating jobsite injury risks. While it may be impossible to eradicate all workplace injuries, each employer and safety manager can go along way towards eliminating hazards at the workplace.

View Zoro’s infographic below for more ways you can help your insureds protect their workers.


Agents, take a look at our Workers’ Compensation Program to add to your portfolio of insurance solutions.