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The Main Causes of Workplace Injury (And How to Prevent Them)

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Sometimes, workplace injuries can still occur, no matter how many safety regulations are followed. In fact, about 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in the US in 2019 alone. To help prevent similar situations from happening, it’s essential to understand what causes them. Here are some of the most common types of work-related injuries:


Overexertion is the most common workplace injury, accounting for over a third of all nonfatal injuries in 2018. It typically occurs when workers attempt to lift, lower, push, pull, or carry objects that are too heavy or awkward for them. It can also occur when workers perform the same motion repeatedly over an extended period without taking a break. To prevent overexertion injuries, ensure your employees are trained in proper lifting techniques and take breaks often to rest their bodies and avoid repetitive motion injuries.

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the second most common type of workplace injury, accounting for about 16 percent of all nonfatal injuries in 2018. They typically occur when floors are wet or cluttered with debris, stairways are in disrepair, or electrical cords are not properly secured out of walkways.

Sadly, slips, trips, and falls can result in severe brain injury, which can require extensive medical care and long-term rehabilitation. If brain injury results from a workplace accident, it is essential to contact an experienced brain injury attorney to assess the case and determine whether any compensation is available.

Workplace Violence

boss clamping his fist in his employee

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), violence is “a physical assault or physically threatening behavior that occurs at work.” Workplace violence can take many forms, from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults. It can happen between co-workers, employees, customers, or even complete strangers. And it can have a devastating impact on both the victim and the workplace as a whole.

NIOSH estimates that there are 2 million victims of workplace violence each year, resulting in an annual cost of $36 billion. In addition to the financial cost, workplace violence can cause emotional trauma, poorer work performance, and increased absenteeism. It’s essential to be aware of the signs of workplace violence and to have a plan in place in case an incident does occur. 

Being struck by an object

Being struck by an object is the third most common type of workplace injury, accounting for about 10 percent of all nonfatal injuries in 2018. It typically occurs when workers are struck by falling objects or flying debris. To prevent being struck by an object, ensure all shelves and overhead storage areas are securely fastened and that any loose objects are safely stored away. You should also require employees to wear appropriate safety gear—such as hard hats—when working in areas where falling objects could strike them. 


The National Safety Council estimates that fatigue is a factor in 13% of all industrial accidents. There are many reasons workers may be fatigued on the job, including long hours, early shifts, night shifts, and rotating shifts. Fatigue can impair judgment, reaction time, and coordination, making it more difficult to perform tasks safely. It can also lead to errors in decision-making and a decreased ability to pay attention to detail. Tired workers are more likely to take shortcuts or risks that they would not normally take.

As a result, employers need to be aware of the dangers of fatigue and take steps to prevent it from becoming a problem in the workplace. Some ways to do this include providing regular breaks, scheduling more frequent rest periods, and keeping the work area well-lit.

Hazardous materials

One of the leading causes of workplace injuries is exposure to hazardous materials. These materials can include chemicals, toxins, and other substances that can be harmful to the human body. In many cases, these substances are used in industrial settings and can be found in products such as cleaners, pesticides, and paint. When workers are exposed to these materials, they can suffer from various health problems, ranging from skin irritations to respiratory illnesses. In severe cases, exposure to hazardous materials can even lead to death.

To protect workers from this type of danger, employers need to provide proper training on how to safely handle and dispose of these materials. Additionally, employers should ensure workers have access to safety gear such as gloves and masks.

The bottom line 

Workplace injuries can have a major impact on your business—not just in terms of worker’s compensation claims and lost productivity but also in terms of morale and employee satisfaction. By taking steps to prevent common causes of workplace injury, you can create a safer environment for your employees while also protecting your bottom line.

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