Injuries at work are unavoidable. Even for companies that follow every safety rule and regulation to the letter, it is simply impossible to remove one hundred percent of safety risks in the workplace. Learning more about the most common workplace injuries and how they occur can help prevent injuries of your own. The following seven types of injuries are among the most common across all jobs.
1. Herniated Discs
A herniated discs injury occurs when the soft center of one of the discs that works as a “shock absorber” in your spine pushes out of place and places pressure on your spinal nerves. This can happen after a serious fall or blow to the back.
People that work jobs that involve physical activity such as repetitive lifting, pulling or pushing, and bending or twisting sideways are at risk for herniated disc injuries. Because the disc is placing pressure on your nerves, simple activities such as walking, sitting, or twisting your back can be very painful.
Symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Numbness and weakness of the arms or legs
- Tingling or burning sensations
- Pain that worsens after activity such as walking
2. Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are similar injuries that affect different parts of your body. Sprains are the tearing or stretching of your ligaments, the bands of tissue that connect your bones together, while a strain is the tearing or stretching of your muscles or tendons.
The most common sprain is an ankle sprain while the most common strains occur in the lower back and hamstrings.
Both injuries result in painful swelling and limited ability to move the injured area. Workplaces where employees lift heavy objects or engage in repetitive physical tasks are likely to see their fair share of sprains and strains.
Additionally, tired or overworked employees may be more likely to injure themselves with a sprain or strain while working.
3. Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repetitive physical tasks, such as pushing and pulling with your hands or arms while working on an assembly line or operating a machine, can cause temporary or even permanent damage to muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. Such repetitive physical tasks can affect the nerves in your wrists and elbows by becoming pinched from overused, swollen ligaments and tendons, causing pain and numbness of your fingers and wrist. Common repetitive motion injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, and medial and lateral epicondylitis.
Repetitive over head work can pinch and tear the muscles in your shoulder causing pain and an inability to raise your arm. Common shoulder disorders from repetitive overhead work include rotator cuff tear, impingement syndrome and bicep tendonitis.
Assembly line workers, construction workers and employees in the meatpacking industry are at particular risk of development repetitive motion injuries.
Broken bones and fractures occur on the job. Slip and falls, equipment malfunctions, and falling objects all contribute to these injuries.
Workers commonly experience relatively minor injuries, such as broken arms, legs, ribs, or wrists from workplace accidents. However, accidents can also leave employees with spinal or skull fractures.
Roofers, loggers, and construction workers assigned to dangerous hard hat sites are particularly at risk for bone fractures and breaks.
Whiplash, an injury that occurs when the head snaps forward and then backward, is a common occurrence in car accidents. Workers that drive while on the clock, such as delivery drivers, long-distance truck drivers, taxi drivers, and ambulance drivers, are at risk for car accidents while on the job.
Whiplash symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Pain at the base of the neck
Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after the accident. This pain typically lasts several weeks and can prevent the injured person from completing even simple neck movements without some pain.
6. Rotator Cuff Injuries
Professional athletes are not the only people susceptible to rotator cuff injuries. Workers that complete repetitive overhead motions each day, for example, painters and carpenters, are also at risk for this common injury.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in your shoulder. Overuse or repetitive motions can cause the tendons to become painfully inflamed. Problems associated with the rotator cuff include tendinitis, bursitis, and tears in the muscles.
7. Occupational Illnesses & Diseases
An occupational illness or disease is any illness or disease resulting from exposure to various health risk factors while working. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), major occupational risks include airborne exposures, carcinogens, ergonomic stressors, and even noise. Some of the most common illnesses and diseases caused by workplace risks include:
Breathing & Respiratory Problems
Exposure to hazardous airborne chemicals, dust, gasses, or fumes at work, especially over a lifetime of work, can result in serious breathing problems.
For example, asbestosis, common among construction workers and shipbuilders, is an illness that results from breathing in asbestos particles. People suffering from asbestosis experience severe fibrosis (scarring of throat and lung tissue) and have a high risk of developing mesothelioma (cancer of the lung and throat linings).
Other breathing and respiratory problems include silicosis, beryllium disease, and pneumoconiosis.
Exposure to chemicals, plants, or even too much sun at work can result in skin diseases.
For example, metal workers and those that work with cement can experience chrome ulcers. Chromium salts or chromates, used as ingredients in many products like cement and paint, can cause serious chrome sensitivity.
Other skin diseases that plague workers include eczema/work-related dermatitis, contact dermatitis, friction blisters, and inflammation of the skin.
Exposure to loud or constant noise at work can result in permanent hearing damage. Workers commonly at risk for hearing loss include construction workers, bouncers and bartenders, factory workers, ambulance drivers, and even airplane flight crews.
Injured at Work? Contact a Work Injury Lawyer for Help Today
No matter the type of work injury, the result is the same. Serious injuries and illnesses prevent you from returning to work, and without pay, you may struggle to support yourself and your family. If you were injured at work, contact a workplace injury lawyer at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. today for an assessment of your case: 419-843-6663.