woman worker with injuryIt’s your right as a worker to be safe on the job, and it’s your right to be compensated should you sustain an injury. Unfortunately, all types of work can pose risks to your body, and sometimes injuries occur despite our best prevention efforts. 

The physicians at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists accept workers’ compensation to help you get back on your feet after a workplace injury. However, we also want our patients to be aware of the most common occupational injuries and the steps they can take to prevent them before they happen. Here are the three most common types of work-related injury to watch out for during your workday:

1. Repetitive Motion Strain

If left unaddressed, repetitive motion of any kind can lead to strain on your muscles and tendons, especially in your hands or wrists. This type of workplace injury can affect people in a wide variety of occupations -- those performing repetitive assembly line work are just as much at risk for muscle strain as those who spend their workday typing on a keyboard. If possible, it’s best to prevent these types of injuries before they develop into something that will require medical care or surgery, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, Dr. Matthew Bernstein and Dr. Mark Yaffe specialize in treating upper extremity work-related injuries. Some things you can do at work to break the cycle of repetitive motion include:  

  • Performing hand and wrist exercises to keep your muscles limber.
  • Use proper form and posture for your task while working.
  • Taking short breaks from repetitive motion every 3 hours.

2. Slips, Trips, and Falls

Accidents can happen at work, and when they do, a little pain afterward may seem like a non-issue. However, injuries resulting from tripping, slipping, and falling can do serious harm to your body. 

The most common of these injuries include:

  • Neck strain
  • Twisted knee and ankles
  • Pulled back muscles 
  • Other muscle tears due to sudden falls 

Be sure to practice the following preventative measures to avoid getting injured:

  • Keep your workstation clear of things you may trip on
  • Be attentive to your surroundings, including other people
  • Report unsafe conditions in the workplace, including lack of non-slip floor coverings

3. Injuries from Overexertion 

According to the National Safety Council, the most common workplace injuries are those that occur due to overexertion. In fact, overexertion injuries make up 35% of all workplace injuries reported in the United States and lead to nearly as many missed workdays as the common cold. 

While the majority of these injuries result in back pain, any muscle is vulnerable to overexertion, especially in occupations that involve heavy lifting, pushing or throwing. Even bending or sitting incorrectly at your desk can cause reaction injuries that may result in serious pain. 

To prevent these injuries from occurring, be sure you’re taking the following precautions at work:

  • Observe your workplace’s safety regulations
  • Practice proper heavy-lifting techniques
  • Be aware of your posture throughout the day
  • Exercise regularly to build your strength
  • Keep hydrated throughout your day and follow a proper stretching program

How To Prevent Workplace Injuries

Preventing workplace injuries requires a proactive safety culture and the implementation of regulations and policies. Here are some key steps to prevent workplace injuries:

  • Establish a proactive safety culture
  • Implement and enforce regulations and policies
  • Obtain cooperation and support from all stakeholders
  • Encourage workers to prioritize safety
  • Provide comprehensive training on safety protocols and hazard awareness
  • Maintain clean and organized workspaces to minimize risks
  • Ensure the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Promote open communication for reporting safety concerns
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify and address hazards
  • Educate employees on ergonomic practices and proper lifting techniques
  • Support mental health and well-being in the workplace
  • Lead by example and actively participate in safety initiatives

By following these steps, workplaces can create a healthy and safe environment, reducing the likelihood of workplace injuries.

What To Do When A Worker Gets Injured?

When a worker gets injured at the workplace, it is important to take immediate action to ensure their well-being and address the situation effectively. Here are some steps to follow when there’s injured employee:

  • Plan for Medical Care: Arrange for prompt medical attention for the injured worker. Ensure they receive the necessary medical treatment to address their injuries.
  • Investigate the Incident: Conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the injury. Identify any workplace hazards or factors that contributed to the incident.
  • Notify OSHA: If required by law, notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the workplace injury. Compliance with reporting requirements is vital.
  • Evaluate Leave Possibilities: Assess the need for leave options such as sick leave or workers' compensation. Determine the appropriate course of action based on the severity of the injury and local regulations.
  • Remember the ADAAA: Consider the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). Ensure appropriate accommodation and support are provided if the injury results in a disability.
  • Scrutinize Your Policies: Review and update workplace policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Make necessary adjustments to enhance workplace safety.
  • Follow Workers' Compensation Coverage: Adhere to workers' compensation regulations and procedures. Provide the injured worker with the necessary information and assistance to file a claim.

Remember to consult legal and HR professionals for specific guidance in your jurisdiction and industry. Properly addressing workplace injuries is crucial for the well-being of employees and the overall safety of the workplace.

Workplace Injury Statistics

Workplace injuries can have devastating consequences. In 2019, over 5,300 workers lost their lives on the job, equating to more than 100 deaths per week or approximately 15 fatalities per day. Construction, known for its inherent dangers, accounted for about 20% of total fatalities. OSHA has identified the 'Fatal Four,' which are the most common work-related injuries leading to death among construction workers.

  • Over 5,300 workers died on the job in 2019.
  • Construction jobs contribute to around 20% of total fatalities.
  • The 'Fatal Four' in construction:
    • Falls
    • Being struck by an object
    • Electrocutions
    • Machine entanglement

Additionally, in the fiscal year 2020, some of the most frequently violated OSHA standards were:

  • Failing to provide proper fall protection systems
  • Failing to provide respiratory protection to employees
  • Insufficient fall protection training for employees
  • Inadequate warning of potential hazards
  • Failure to provide eye and face protection for employees
  • Lack of adequate machine guards

Employers can significantly reduce common workplace injuries by implementing appropriate safety precautions and ensuring comprehensive employee training, particularly for those in high-risk occupations.

Get Injured at Work in Illinois? Visit Barrington Orthopedic Specialists

The physicians at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists have years of experience treating work-related injuries and providing patients with comprehensive evaluation and treatment options. Our Schaumburg location offers a work conditioning program that is designed to safely return injured workers to full-duty work following the completion of their acute therapy.  

While reporting a workplace injury to your employer may feel like an imposition, it’s important to remember that all of the injuries listed above can become worse over time if left untreated. The more you ignore your body’s early warning signs, the more it could result in being out of work for longer.

The team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists has a dedicated workers’ compensation department and can be reached directly at (847) 285-4220 or by completing a Request an Appointment form on our website at www.barringtonortho.com.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Are mental health issues related to workplace stress or incidents covered under workers' compensation laws?

In some cases, mental health issues arising from workplace stress or traumatic incidents can be covered under workers' compensation. However, these cases can be more complex, so it's important to consult with a legal expert in workers' compensation law.

How long do I have to report a workplace injury?

The timeframe for reporting a workplace injury varies by state but is generally quite short, often within a few days of the incident. Prompt reporting is crucial for workers' compensation claims.

What if my workplace injury is due to a lack of safety measures at my job?

If your injury is due to inadequate safety measures, you may have grounds for a workers' compensation claim. It's important to document the unsafe conditions and report them as part of your injury claim process.

What types of benefits are available for workers who become disabled due to a workplace injury?

Workers who become disabled due to a workplace injury may be eligible for disability benefits like temporary partial disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, workers' compensation benefits, and medical expenses coverage. They may also have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.

Do I have to pay for my own medical expenses if I am injured at work?

No, you do not have to pay for your own medical expenses if you are injured at work. Workers' compensation benefits typically cover the costs of necessary medical treatment related to a workplace injury.

What happens if my workplace injury prevents me from working and earning wages?

If a workplace injury prevents you from working and earning wages, you may be entitled to receive lost wages through workers' compensation benefits. Depending on the extent of your injury, you may also be eligible for temporary partial disability or permanent partial disability benefits.