As a Valley rehabilitation center, we see a lot of incoming patients who have been in workplace accidents which have required physical therapy and occupational therapy. But, most workplace injuries, even in the process of doing something hazardous, come as a complete surprise. One moment, the employee is doing something we’ve done a million times, and the next, they’re stunned by pain and the functional failure of their own body.
According to Safety Partners. Ltd., shortcuts, overconfidence, poor housekeeping, starting a job without complete information, mental distraction, lack of preparation, and neglecting safety procedures are the seven leading causes of workplace accidents. They claim that 8 out of 10 accidents are the fault of the person in the accident.
Ultimately, that means workers who have accidents often have them because they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing, or aren’t doing something they should be doing. Which isn’t to say, they aren’t careful, just that people make mistakes.
Here are some of the most frequent causes of workplace accidents:
“Must be able to lift 50 pounds.”
One wonders why a desk job would have this type of requirement, and there are some who would say this gives an easy out to employers who are looking for a way to get around hiring people who they don’t deem to be in reasonable physical shape.
At the same time, the number one cause of workplace accidents is overexertion: bending, lifting, pulling, pushing, etc. Even the ability to lift fifty pounds isn’t going to help if it’s done incorrectly or carelessly.
Perhaps the statement should read, “Must be able to lift 50 pounds carefully.” If you can, your spine and shoulders will thank you.
2. Slips and trips
Slipping over or tripping on something yields two net effects: A) falling or B) catching oneself (which results in injury.) Oddly enough, falling and catching are third and fourth on the top ten causes of workplace injuries, meaning that slips and trips are just gateways to other injuries.
Falling, as previously mentioned, can be the result of a trip or a slip, but also takes into account falling off of things, such as ledges, ladders, and stairs. According to the National Safety Council, many falling accidents are preventable by using appropriate safety gear and a modicum of training and employee diligence. Whether or not the person has been trained correctly is another matter. It should be noted that falls are the second leading cause of spinal cord injury.
4. Reaction accidents
Reaction accidents cause muscle injuries, body trauma, and other medical problems. As much as we don’t think this should be that big of a category, anyone who has tried to get away from an angry wasp or yanked their hand back after getting a shock knows that sometimes instinct takes over, and there may be a compelling survival mechanism in play.
5. Falling objects
Falling objects are the fifth primary cause of workplace accidents. Unfortunately, falling objects usually fall on a person’s head first. Since any head injury can also cause a neck or back injury, this is particularly significant.
Even when an object falls, it isn’t necessarily the fault of the victim, who may be in the wrong place at the wrong time; however, this can serve as a warning that even in the process of minding one’s own business, one can get hurt by the actions of fellow employees. The only way to avoid injury is to be vigilantly alert and prepared to dodge out of the way of falling objects if the opportunity presents itself.
Injuries in the workplace can have devastating and far-reaching consequences. If eight out of ten workplace accidents could be avoided, the injury rate would be phenomenally lower.
If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073.