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Top 10 Most Common Causes of Workers’ Compensation Injury Claims

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Workers’ compensation benefits help injured workers cover medical and living costs associated with workplace accidents. While businesses can take steps to reduce the likelihood their employees will face injury on the job, they may not be able to completely prevent it, making workers’ compensation insurance a requirement in many states. In 2013, over three million workers were injured or fell ill due to workplace conditions. Some of the most common causes of claims include:

  1. Overexertion. This category includes injuries sustained while a worker was physically handling materials on the job. Pushing, pulling, lifting, throwing, and carrying tasks were top causes of disabling injuries in the workplace in 2012. Some who experience these injuries may suffer from chronic pain and permanent joint and muscle damage, affecting their ability to work in the future. Always follow proper lifting and materials-handling guidelines and maintain core strength to decrease the risk of overexertion injuries.
  2. Slips, trips, and falls. The second most common cause for workers’ compensation claims, falls may occur because of distraction, fatigue, hazardous conditions like wet floors, or improperly stored tools. Injuries associated with falls include broken bones and brain and spinal cord injuries. Even a seemingly minor fall can cause serious internal injury. Encouraging employees to take their time and follow safety protocols can decrease the likelihood of slip, trip, and fall accidents.
  3. Being struck. Being struck by falling or swinging objects can cause head trauma, internal bleeding, and significant contusions. In some cases, being struck is part of a combination accident in which overexertion or falling also occurs.
  4. Bodily reaction. When an employee narrowly avoids an accident or hazard and still incurs an injury, it is known as a bodily reaction injury. For instance, when a nurse quickly reacts to a fainting patient, he or she may twist an ankle or injure a shoulder during the activity. These types of injuries can linger for months and affect an employee’s quality of life.
  5. Vehicle accidents. Vehicle accident injuries can range from whiplash that takes years of rehabilitation to address, broken bones, and brain injuries. When employees are driving during the normal course of work, any injuries sustained in an accident are covered by workers’ compensation claims.
  6. Repetitive motion injury. Carpal tunnel, bursitis, and tendonitis are widely known repetitive motion injuries, but any injury caused by a repetitive motion task is eligible for coverage under workers’ compensation insurance. Assembly-line work, lifting, and sitting tasks can all lead to these types of injuries.
  7. Equipment accidents. Equipment malfunctioning and being trapped or crushed cause life-altering disfigurement and serious injury. In these cases, equipment manufacturers or improper training techniques may be partially to blame for an injury.
  8. Violence. Violence in the workplace is not as common as other injuries but can be devastating or fatal. Workers’ compensation also provides survivor’s benefits to family members if an employee is killed on a job. There are also several alternative legal actions an employee can take if violently injured at work.
  9. Fires and explosions. Often caused by vehicle or machinery accidents, fires and explosions can happen when flammable substances are improperly handled or when a machine component malfunctions. Burns from workplace accidents can require years of treatments and prevent an employee from returning to work.
  10. Exposure to harmful environments or substances. In industrial, healthcare, and manufacturing environments, employees may come into contact with a range of hazards, including viruses, carcinogens, and toxic chemicals. These can affect employees both internally and externally. Any illness or damage caused by a workplace hazard is eligible for coverage under workers’ compensation policies.