If you have been injured at work, you are not alone. Learn some eye-opening statistics about the most common workplace injuries from the National Safety Council and OSHA.
Workplace injuries happen every day. From broken bones to back pain, workers in all occupations and industries are exposed to a broad range of injury risks. Each year, these risks leave millions of workers unable to do their jobs on a short-term or long-term basis. The National Safety Council’s (NSC) statistics on the most common workplace injuries demonstrates just how common it is for all types of employees to miss time from work due to accidents and other incidents on the job.
How Common are Work-Related Injuries?
Workplace injuries are alarmingly common. According to the National Safety Council, in the United States, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. This equates to:
- 540 work injuries per hour
- 12,900 work injuries per day
- 90,400 work injuries per week
- 7 million work injuries per year
Also according to the NSC, these injuries result in 99 million days of lost productivity on an annual basis. This means that, on average, each work injury results in 21 days of disability. As an average, this means that some workers are able to return to work fairly quickly (if they even miss any time at all); but, it also means that many workers experience long-term disabling effects from their job-related injuries.
It is also important to note that these workplace injury statistics only reflect known work injuries. Far too many workers never report their accidents, and they never receive the medical treatment or financial benefits they need to recover.
3 Most Common Workplace Injuries Resulting in Time Missed from Work
Workplace accidents can result in a wide variety of types of injuries. According to the National Safety Council’s workplace injury statistics, the three most common workplace injuries resulting in time missed from the job are:
- Sprains, strains, and tears – These are injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that can result from twisting, stretching, overuse, or overexertion.
- Soreness or pain – Chronic back pain is one of the most-common complaints among workers whose jobs require them to sit in an office chair for hours a day.
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures – From band aids to sutures, these injuries can range in severity, and they can cause a variety of different types of physical limitations.
In addition to the most common workplace injuries, several other types of work-related injuries are also relatively common. For example, many workers suffer concussions and broken bones in traumatic accidents, and repetitive stress injuries (i.e. carpal tunnel syndrome) are common as well.
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3 Most Common Repetitive Stress Injuries at Work
As noted above, some of the most common workplace injuries include sprains, strains, and tears. While these injuries can result from traumatic accidents (such as falls and collisions), they can also result from repetitive stress.
In fact, many types of repetitive stress injuries are fairly common among workers in a broad range of occupations. Some of the most common workplace injuries resulting from repetitive stress (or repetitive strain) include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that is common among office workers. But, many other types of workers can develop carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists as well, and it can make it difficult (if not impossible) for many workers to do their jobs.
- Tennis Elbow – Despite its name, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a repetitive stress injury that is actually very common among workers. For example, Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that tennis elbow commonly results from job-related tasks such as painting, operating tools, cutting, welding, operating, and performing dental and medical exams.
- Injuries Caused By Inflammation – Inflammation is among the most-common causes of repetitive stress injuries. This includes common injuries such as tendonitis, stenosing tenosynovitis (“trigger finger”), and De Quervain’s Disease.
3 Most Common Workplace Accidents Resulting in Time Missed from Work
Not surprisingly, the most common workplace injuries correlate to some of the most-common workplace accidents. According to the NSC, the three most-common accident types resulting in time missed from work are:
- Overexertion – In this category, the NSC includes lifting, lowering, bending, and repetitive stress.
- Contact with objects and equipment – This includes being struct by, caught or compressed between, or crushed by machinery, falling objects, and collapsing structures and equipment.
- Slips, trips, and falls – Falls can cause a variety of types of traumatic injuries, whether they involve slipping on a wet floor or falling from height due to a ladder failure or faulty handrail.
3 Most Common Workplace Injuries Resulting from Accidents
These accidents (among many others) can lead to a variety of different types of injuries. In addition to the injuries listed above as the most-common to result in time missed from work, other common injuries sustained in work-related accidents include:
- Back and Neck Injuries – Bulging discs (herniated discs), whiplash, and other back and neck injuries are in a wide variety of work environments. They can result from all types of accidents, and they often result in periods away from work significantly longer than average.
- Bone Fractures and Dislocations – Bone fractures also result in long-term absences for many workers. Dislocations, while generally less serious than fractures, also leave many workers in need of short-term disability benefits.
- Concussions and Other Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Concussions and other forms of TBI are more common than many people realize. You do not need to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion; in fact, there are several symptoms besides unconsciousness that can be indicative of a brain injury that requires treatment, rest, and recovery.
Most Common Workplace Injuries: By Body Part
So far we’ve covered many of the most common types of workplace injuries—as well as the most common causes of those injuries. Now, let’s talk about the most common workplace injuries by body part. According to the NSC, the three body parts most-commonly injured in job-related accidents are:
Notably, however, workers who suffer shoulder injuries are likely to miss the most amount of time from work. The NSC reports that the median number of days missed for shoulder injuries is 28. Wrist injuries are next with a median of 15 days missed from work, followed by ankle injuries (11), foot injuries (10), back injuries (7) and head injuries (3).
Top 5 Occupations with the Largest Number of Disabling Injuries
What types of employees are most likely to miss time from work due to a job-related injury? The NSC’s workplace injury statistics indicate that workers in the following five occupations suffer the largest number of disabling injuries:
- Service (including firefighters and police officers)
- Transportation and shipping
- Manufacturing and production
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
Comparing the NSC’s Workplace Injury Statistics to OSHA’s “Fatal Four”
While construction workers are the fifth most likely to suffer disabling work injuries according to the statistics from the NSC, data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that construction workers face the greatest risk for fatal workplace injuries. According to OSHA, out of 5,333 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2019, about 20% (1,061) were in construction. As OSHA notes, this means that the construction industry accounts for "one in five worker deaths for the year." This is an alarming statistic, and it is one that needs to change.
Notably, OSHA's data indicate that fatal workplace accidents have increased substantially in recent years. For example, OSHA previously reported that, "Out of 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2016, 991 or 21.1% were in construction." While this means that there has been a fractional drop in the percentage of construction worker deaths, clearly, there is still a significant amount of work to be done.
The most-common cause of death among construction workers is highway collisions. However, in its list of the most-common causes of job-related deaths (previously labeled the “Fatal Four”), OSHA focuses on the four jobsite risks that are most likely to result in fatal injuries. These risks are:
- Being struck by objects
- Being caught in or between objects
Not only do these risks correlate with the NSC’s top three causes of disabling workplace injuries, but they are also closely linked to many of the most-common workplace safety violations. According to data from OSHA published in 2021, the 10 most-common workplace safety violations are:
- Failure to provide adequate fall protection
- Failure to provide adequate hazard communication
- Failure to provide adequate respiratory protection
- Scaffolding safety failures
- Ladder safety failures
- Failure to control hazardous energy (follow lockout/tagout procedures)
- Powered industrial truck (forklift) safety failures)
- Failure to provide adequate fall protection training
- Failure to provide adequate eye and face protection
- Failure to provide adequate machine guarding and other machinery-related safety violations
Do you notice a theme here? The most-common safety violations are not violations committed by individual workers, but rather violations committed by companies entrusted with their workers’ safety. Companies cut corners far too often, and many do so with complete disregard for the health and safety of their workforces. These failures – which companies can and should avoid – are to blame for countless job-related injuries each year (far more than are actually reported). Companies that put profits before safety deserve to be held accountable, and workers who suffer due to companies’ profit-decisions deserve to recover just compensation.
Understanding the True Cost of Workplace Injuries
To put all of this into perspective, each year, the NSC estimates that more than 150,000 employees suffer workplace injuries. These injuries lead to more than $170 billion in direct financial costs. These are extraordinarily high numbers; and, again, due to the lack of reporting, it is likely that the true numbers are significantly higher.
As an individual, the costs of your injury may not reach into the billions, but they can still be substantial. Medical expenses and lost wages can consume many workers’ savings, and it is not unusual for injured workers to go into debt if they fail to assert their legal rights effectively. The physical pain and emotional toll of your injury can have financial and non-financial costs as well; and, over your lifetime, these costs could become insurmountable.
Injured on the Job? Know Your Legal Rights
As a result, if you have suffered any type of job-related injury, it is important to know your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, missed time from work, and other losses, and an experienced lawyer for work injury can help you collect the compensation you deserve. Depending upon (i) how you were injured, (ii) the extent of your injury, and (iii) your employment status (i.e. whether you are an employee or independent contractor), you may be entitled to recover:
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Personal injury damages
- Long-term disability and/or Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits
- Supplemental security income (SSI) benefits
- Other forms of financial compensation
Why seek compensation from more than one source? In many cases, the compensation available from a single source will not be enough to cover all of your injury-related losses. For example, workers’ compensation typically only covers injured workers’ medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages; and, if you were injured in an auto accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may not be enough to cover your future medical needs, lost earning capacity, and ongoing pain and suffering. With your health and finances on the line, it is important that you speak with a lawyer through WorkInjurySource.com to learn about your rights and make sure you maximize your financial recovery.