Causes of Workplace Accidents
A workplace accident is any incident that occurs while an employee is performing job duties, resulting in injury or even death. According to Injury Facts, a website developed by the National Safety Council, in 2019 there were 4,572 preventable work deaths, an increase of 2% from the year before. The number of work-related injuries in 2019 is even higher, totaling 4.64 million nationwide.
Injuries from a work-related accident can seriously affect your daily life, as well as your physical and mental health. Although it is beneficial to know you have legal options in the aftermath of a work accident, it would be better if the accident never occurred at all. As an employee, it is important to know the most common causes of work accidents and the ways you can prevent them.
The law firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy has one of the best track records in litigating work accident claims. In 2019 alone, we secured over $250 million in verdicts and settlements for accident victims, including a $110 million verdict and an $11.5 million settlement. For a FREE legal consultation, please call 212-736-5300.
Common Causes of Work-Related Injuries
Some jobs are naturally more risky than others. For example, the Injury Facts data shows that construction was the industry with the largest number of preventable fatal injuries in 2019. However, workplace accidents can occur across industries and are caused by a variety of factors. The National Safety Council’s Injury Facts page lists the following as the three leading causes of work-related injuries:
Slips, trips, and falls. Accidents in this category can occur in various ways, including slips or trips without falling to the ground, falling on the same level (slips or trips that result in a fall), and falling to a lower level (can include falling from a collapsing building or structure and falling from roofs, ladders, or scaffolding, among other things). Slips, trips, and falls are quite common, and these accidents are not limited to industries like construction. For example, National Safety Council data states that in the retail industry in 2016, there were 29,830 injuries and 29 deaths from falls (both from heights and on the same level).
Contact with objects and equipment. These types of accidents can be quite severe, as they often involve intense contact with heavy equipment. Workers can be struck by a falling or moving object, caught, crushed, or stuck in a piece of equipment or machinery, or caught in a piece of collapsing equipment. The National Safety Council states that those in the agriculture, transportation, warehousing, and construction industries are most at risk, but workers such as firefighters, police officers, transportation workers, and office workers can also experience these kinds of accidents.
Overexertion and bodily reaction. This category includes non-impact injuries (the injured person was not struck by an object and did not fall) that result from physical effort directed at an outside source or object. Examples include injuries resulting from lifting, pushing, carrying, pulling, or holding objects. It can also include injuries that result from consistent repetitive motion that does not require strenuous effort (a wrist strain from typing on a keyboard or using a mouse for hours at a time, for example). In overexertion cases, the back is the part of the body most commonly injured, and transportation and warehouse workers are most at risk, as these groups are expected to do a lot of heavy lifting every day.
How to Prevent Work Accidents
To reduce the number of work accidents that occur, it is important for both employers and employees to know the proper steps to take to prevent them, as well as general safety information. The National Safety Council provides specific safety tips for slip, trip, and fall accidents and struck by object accidents, two of the leading causes of work-related injuries.
Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls
To prevent slips, trips, and falls, workers should plan ahead, assess risk, and make sure they use the right equipment. They may even want to consider if the task at hand must be completed from a height, or if there is another way to do so. Other tips to prevent falls include:
- Make sure all workers on the job are properly trained
- Ensure the work area is free of potential hazards
- Make sure the ground is level, and never lean ladders against an unstable surface
- Use the correct equipment for the job, and ensure it is not old or damaged
Employees should know that employers have a responsibility to provide them with a safe work environment. If you feel like the job you are being asked to do is unsafe, you have a right to speak up.
Preventing Struck by Object Accidents
These accidents often involve equipment operation and can be especially risky, but they are also preventable. To minimize struck-by accidents, both workers and employers should:
- Make sure equipment is operating properly and has no faulty parts before use
- Ensure all employees using equipment are trained to do so
- Ensure all employees pay attention to their surroundings, especially when equipment is being used
- Walk behind moving equipment
- Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the work environment
In addition to these tips, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) points to a lack of hazard recognition as a major cause of accidents. Many accidents could be prevented if workplaces consistently identified potential hazards and took steps to fix them.
Injuries From Work Accidents
Work accident injuries can range from minor to devastating. Some injuries that can result from work accidents include:
- Sprains, strains, or tears
- Fractures and broken bones
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cuts and lacerations
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Internal injuries
- Mental trauma
- Spinal injuries, such as herniated discs
These injuries can force workers to take time off work that they wouldn’t have otherwise to recover. Severe cases may result in permanent or temporary disability, limiting income and future work opportunities. If you are a worker who has been injured on the job, you have options. You are likely eligible for workers’ compensation, a system which provides monetary benefits to alleviate medical costs and lost wages while you recover from your injuries. Additionally, if you feel that someone else’s negligent behavior contributed to causing your accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. In either situation, you should contact a work accident lawyer to discuss your case.
Work Accident Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights
No matter how cautious you are, sometimes accidents still occur. If you or a loved one has been injured in a work accident, the lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy can help you explore your legal options, whether it is filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or pursuing a third-party personal injury claim.
Select results in third party work injury cases include:
- $15,000,000 settlement in a wrongful death case for the wife and five children of an HVAC worker who was fatally crushed by a 28,450-pound falling object while on the job
- $12,000,000 settlement for a Manhattan worker who fell while working on a subway extension project, leading to multiple hospitalizations and permanent disablement from his job
- $6,793,881 jury verdict for a union laborer who was impaled by a sharp piece of rebar when he fell backwards while on the job
- $6,500,000 settlement for a union mechanic who was required during the course of his work to walk across a catwalk; while doing so, he fell 18-20 feet, resulting in permanent partial disability
- $6,500,000 jury verdict for a 32-year-old Local 731 union worker who suffered a traumatic lower back injury after he was struck by a 2×4 beam thrown down from 16-18 feet above
- $6,400,000 settlement for a union ironworker who suffered a traumatic fall from approximately 30 feet, fracturing his sacrum and tailbone and resulting in neuropsychological damage
- $6,250,000 settlement for a worker who suffered a cervical fracture leading to complete quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs) when he fell nine feet off a beam onto his head
- $6,000,000 settlement for a union waterproofer who fell through a gap in an exterior scaffold during a Brooklyn construction project and suffered herniated discs that required lumbar fusion surgery
- $5,900,000 settlement in a Bronx case for a union bricklayer who suffered post-concussion syndrome and spinal injuries after he fell 20 feet off an unsafe ladder
- $5,885,000 jury verdict for a 35-year-old undocumented worker with serious wrist, arm, and back injuries after falling off a ladder placed atop a scaffold while on the job
- $5,500,000 settlement in a Nassau County case for an excavation worker who was pinned against steel sheeting by a rotating excavator
- $5,500,000 recovery for a delivery worker who suffered serious spinal injuries when he was struck by the metal gate of a freight elevator while delivering furniture
- $5,500,000 settlement for a 40-year-old electrician who suffered blunt force trauma to his head after he received an electric shock, causing him to fall 14 to 16 feet from an extension ladder
- $5,000,000 verdict for a 53-year-old carpenter who suffered various injuries that required multiple surgeries after he fell off a scaffold during a Brooklyn renovation project