Workplace injuries are more likely in higher-risk jobs, such as construction, oil, and gas, industrial, or other physical labor jobs, but anyone could get hurt at work. Knowing the common workplace injuries for your particular career field can help you identify risks and avoid injury. If the unthinkable happens and you are hurt at work, your employer is required by the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to pay for your immediate medical treatment and aftercare through its workers’ compensation insurance policy.
If your claim is denied or your coverage reduced, you may need to seek legal assistance. Diefer Law Group are experienced workers’ compensation lawyers and can often help California workers appeal a DWC decision or file a suit to get the coverage they are entitled to under the law. Contact us today at (888) 301-7795 for a consultation about your case.
Slipping, Tripping, or Falling from Heights
Slipping on a slick or wet surface, tripping over an uneven surface, such as at a construction site, or falling down or from heights are some of the most common ways people get hurt at work. These injuries may happen anywhere, from falling down stairs due to unprotected sides to falling off a ladder scaffolding. Even an office job can be perilous, if you slip on a slick, polished floor or on a wet spill.
A slip and fall injury can result in serious injury. Broken or sprained wrists are very common, as most people naturally put their hands out to break a fall. A fractured tailbone is another common injury from falling, as are head injuries if your head strikes the hard ground.
Muscle Strain and Overexertion
Dangerous construction jobs are not the only places that workplace injuries can occur. Workplace injuries can also occur in office settings. Cumulative Trauma Injuries (CT) and overexertion can lead to long-term complications and chronic pain. Another name for these injuries is Repetitive Strain Injuries or RSI. Many of these are considered occupational illnesses, like carpal tunnel syndrome. Common causes of CT (aka RSI) and overexertion include:
- Typing or moving a computer mouse without proper ergonomic support
- Improper lifting of heavy objects
- Repetitive motion with no breaks
- Jumping from one level to another instead of using scaffolding or a ladder
- Collapsing structure or support
- Certain microtasks, like on a factory line or in a warehouse
Your company should have training for performing certain physical tasks correctly or supply safety or comfort equipment, such as wrist supports for typing or lumbar support belts to lift heavy objects. If your company fails to create a safe workplace environment, the chances of an employee injury can increase substantially.
Struck-by Object Injuries
Being struck by an object, whether it is something falling from a height or an unsecured piece of equipment swinging into your path, can cause a life-changing, catastrophic injury, especially if someone is struck in the head. Severed hands or fingers, concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), a stress fracture or complete bone break, or eye injuries are some of the most common struck-by injuries.
Common causes of a struck-by injury include:
- Improperly secured machinery
- Falling materials, tools, or debris
- Dropped loads
- Pressure between a body part and the object
- Excessive vibration colliding with equipment or a heavy object
Following workplace safety procedures, including recommendations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), can reduce the chances of a struck-by injury. Companies in high-risk industries should also provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hard hats or medical gear for hospital workers, to reduce the chances of a catastrophic injury.
Collisions or Crashes
If you drive a motor vehicle in the course of your work, from a commercial truck to a forklift, there is a chance of being hurt in a collision. Workers in a warehouse may be struck or run over by a forklift, or the operator of a motor vehicle could also cause an accident.
Common causes of a collision or crash include:
- Falling off the vehicle
- Getting stuck underneath a vehicle that overturned
- Commercial truckers operating in an unsafe manner (driving past the regulated number of hours, DUI, or falling asleep at the wheel)
- Being struck by objects falling off a truck or cargo vehicle
- Semi-truck highway crashes
Operating a motor vehicle safely, from following all guidelines established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that all loads are properly secured, can reduce the chances of a collision or injury due to colliding with falling cargo.
Illness or Injury from Toxic Chemical Exposure
Workers who have jobs that include exposure to hazardous chemicals risk severe injuries to their skin, eyes, and respiratory system if exposed to toxic fumes or chemicals without proper PPE and safety measures. OSHA requires all workplaces with the hazardous chemical present, from cleaning solutions to corrosive acids, to have a Materials Safety Datasheet (MSDS) binder, listing each chemical used at the facility and how to handle any exposure or unintentional consumption or inhalation.
Before starting work with any toxic substance, familiarize yourself with its MSDS listing and the recommended safety protocols for handling it, such as wearing goggles, gloves, or a protective suit. If you are exposed to a chemical, if it gets on your skin or eyes, or you inhale fumes, call 911, follow the immediate treatment protocol on the chemical’s MSDS sheet, and inform emergency responders which chemical caused your injury.
OSHA’s Fatal Four Work-Related Injuries
Four of the most common workplace injuries have a significantly higher fatality risk than other types of workplace injuries. OSHA designates these as the “fatal four,” and even if the victim does not die, the chances they will have a life-changing or catastrophic injury are high.
- Struck-by injuries, including motor vehicle collisions
- Trip, slip, or fall from heights
- Caught-between injuries, where a person or body part is caught between machinery, a heavy device, or a tool
If you experience one of these injuries, prompt medical attention could make a difference in your outcome. With any workplace injury, however, your safety should come first. Call 911 for an emergency, or seek immediate medical treatment, following your employer’s worker’s compensation treatment protocols.
Have You Suffered a Workplace Injury in California?
If you suffered one of these common workplace injuries and are having difficulty with your workers’ compensation claim or appeal, contact Diefer Law Group today at (888) 301-7795 for a complimentary case evaluation. We are an experienced team of worker’s compensation attorneys focused on protecting workers’ rights.