Workplace injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, and in any industry. According to the US Department of Labor, worker injuries and illnesses have decreased from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.7 per 100 in 2020. But work injuries are still a major problem, especially in industries like logging, construction, trucking, mining, and agriculture.
In Oregon and most other states, workers’ compensation is designed to protect workers who get injured on the job from the financial hardship of lost wages, medical bills, and healthcare fees. Most work-related injuries are covered by workers’ comp insurance. These include the vast majority of accidents and traumatic injuries (such as sprains and concussions) as well as occupational diseases (like tendonitis or carpal tunnel).
Keep reading to learn about the most common workplace injuries, how to avoid them, and what to do if you end up getting injured on the job.
1. Strains, Sprains, and Tears
Strains, sprains, and tears occur when muscles, ligaments, or tendons are pulled or torn. These types of injuries can impact several areas of the body such as the limbs, back, shoulders, and more. They’re among the most common workplace injuries in labor intensive jobs that involve repetitive, strenuous movements.
To prevent these unpleasant injuries, it’s important to use proper form when handling heavy objects. When you aren’t on the clock, try to maintain a healthy diet and incorporate stretches and low-impact exercise into your routine. If you’re feeling sore or physically tired after work, be sure to get enough rest and not overexert yourself with intense activity.
Contusions, also known as bruises, are frequent in a number of industries. While bruises can be small and unremarkable, others can lead to serious pain and swelling and can even be a sign of severe deep-tissue damage. Most contusions sustained in the workplace are due to traumatic force from an external object.
Practicing ergonomic and spatial awareness can go a long way in limiting the chances of sustaining this type of injury. If possible, make sure to assess any large or heavy objects you’ll be handling to determine approximate weight and shape.
3. Punctures and Lacerations
Punctures, deep cuts, and other injuries that cause tears in the skin may occur in virtually any industry. Lacerations (tears in the soft body tissue) can be caused by sharp objects such as glass shards, saws, or knives. Puncture wounds are generally caused by pointy objects like nails, tacks, or drill bits.
To avoid this type of injury, workers in industries like manufacturing, food production, and construction should wear adequate protective gear, including cut-resistant gloves. Blades and other sharp objects should be cleaned and sharpened on a regular basis in order to reduce the risk of infection.
4. Vision and Hearing Loss
Damage to the eyes and ears can significantly impact your daily life. These types of sensory injuries can occur suddenly due to a single traumatic event or over time when you’re exposed to loud noises or bright lights on a regular basis. In fact, because hearing and vision loss are common as a natural result of the aging process, many workers are unaware that the changes they experience are caused by work-related exposures.
Preventative measures, such as consistently wearing eye and ear protection, are the most effective methods of preventing vision and hearing loss.
Burns can be caused by excessively hot substances or objects, sunlight, smoke, fire, chemicals, radiation, and electricity, among other things. They’re common in the restaurant industry as well as in manufacturing and the trades industries. Proper employee training and clear safety procedures are essential to avoid on-the-job burn injuries. Employees who work around excessive heat should also take frequent breaks to reduce risk.
Broken bones can be caused by trauma or overuse. They may be small, hairline fractures or significant breaks. Workers in manual-labor jobs who are exposed to heavy machinery or equipment are most at risk of fractures, but they can occur in any industry. In any environment wherein workers are in close proximity to heavy machinery or equipment, they should be thoroughly trained on safety protocols. Safety gear should be worn at all times and supervision should be strict and constant.
In some cases, a worker may sustain a hairline fracture and not realize it has happened, but it can weaken the bone. If you experience any pain after an accident – even if you think nothing is wrong – it’s important to get it checked out to avoid further accidents worsening the injury.
7. Cumulative Trauma
Generally, these injuries are the result of performing the same task repeatedly over a long period of time. The most common types of cumulative trauma injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). They’re most frequent among workers who have lifelong careers doing manual labor.
Because cumulative trauma disorders develop as a result of repetitive tasks, they can be difficult to prevent. Workers can do their best to alternate positions during repetitive tasks and avoid awkward movements, but ultimately employers need to take care to provide adequate breaks and rotate employees between various tasks often.
What To Do If You Get Injured on the Job
If you ever sustain a work injury, the first thing you should do is make sure you and anyone else involved are okay. Stop what you’re doing immediately, and seek medical attention right away. Many injuries – even mild ones – will get worse if left untreated.
Here’s what you should do:
- Report the injury or illness to your employer right away.
- Seek emergency medical treatment, if necessary; otherwise, get first aid and see a healthcare provider of your choice.
- Tell your treating physician that your injury is job-related and know how to advocate for yourself to your doctor.
- Find out if you’re eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- Seek the help of a qualified workers’ comp attorney to give you the best possible chance of your claim being approved.
The compassionate and highly knowledgeable attorneys at RGMR have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers. We can help you understand the ins and outs of the workers compensation process in Oregon.
The Attorneys at RGMR Can Help You Build Your Case and Get You the Benefits You Deserve
Whether you’ve sustained a sprain, contusion, cumulative trauma, or another type of workplace injury or illness, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. Having competent legal representation significantly increases your chance of winning your case.
At Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin, and Ratliff, LLP, we know the system inside and out. With over 70 years of combined real-world experience with workers’ comp law, we have the knowledge and tenacity necessary to build the strongest case possible and fight for your rights. We offer free consultations and we won’t charge you any fees unless we win your case.
Contact us today to tell us your story.