Articles Tagged with workplace injuries

Power tools are a common presence in American homes and workplaces. Millions of people have power tools at home, ranging from the most basic, such as drills or power screwdrivers, all the way up to fully equipped home woodshops or metal shops. Cordless or corded, power tools are everywhere, and this is particularly true in many American workplaces. Many occupations, including most manufacturing jobs, construction, and trades, including electrical work and plumbing, rely heavily upon power tools. They make completing many jobs safer, faster, and more efficient. Think about trying to build a house without even so much as a power saw. Putting so much power in such a small package – many power tools are hand-held – is, unfortunately, often a dangerous proposition, even for professional users. Not surprisingly, then, workplace accidents involving power tools are fairly common events.

Injuries From Power Tool Accidents Can be Serious

Many people use power tools at home, completely unrelated to on-the-job use of power tools. Such at-home use, rightly or wrongly, can give employees a false sense of knowledge and security regarding use of power tools on the job. The problem, of course, is that the types and power of tools used on the job far exceed what most home power tool users have experienced. When employees believe they know “enough” about operating power tools, particularly hand-held power tools, they may be able to avoid training or pay little attention during training. 

Nobody goes into the construction industry thinking it is going to be a walk in the park. Everybody who ever worked construction knew before their first day on the job that construction work is dirty, difficult, and above all, dangerous. Injuries are commonplace, and fatal injuries on the construction site happen far more often than in any other kind of workplace. Construction work sites are loaded with hazards most employees in other occupations will never see, and many of those hazards are potentially fatal.

No Industry Compares to Construction for Deaths, Injuries

In 2019, federal statistics indicate that on-the-job deaths of construction workers accounted for 20% of all workplace fatalities, a trend that has held for decades even though the construction industry accounts for only 4% of total employment in the United States. In addition to fatalities, more than 70,000 construction injuries are reported each year, with probably that many more going unreported. The injury rate for construction workers was 9.7 per 100,000 employees in 2019, nearly triple the rate of 3.5 per 100,000 employees for all other private sector employment. The non-fatal injury rate for construction workers is 71% higher than any other industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a world of contradictions in the workplace. People in some occupations have found themselves working exclusively from home for nearly the last year. Others have found themselves unemployed, while still others have found themselves working at a frenzied pace. There is increased pressure on the supply chain as well as the means of delivery, meaning that employees at production facilities for food and other essential supplies, distribution warehouses, and retail outlets often have had to increase their work pace and hours to keep up with demand despite many fellow employees being out sick with COVID-19. Further, first responders, emergency workers, and many health care workers also have faced long hours at work as they strive to provide many of the services people rely upon, pandemic or not. These efforts have often been complicated by many coworkers being sidelined by COVID-19, leaving remaining employees to pick up the slack with longer shifts.

Risks of Fatigue for Employee Safety are Well-Documented

For quite some time, federal health officials have known that employee fatigue is a significant threat to workplace safety. When employees have to work long shifts, extra shifts, overtime, and evening or overnight shifts, they become fatigued. Often the extra work hours are at times that disrupt normal sleep patterns, which in addition to extra work hours just contributes to employee fatigue. Even employees working 40 hours are at heightened risk of fatigue when working longer shifts, evening or overnight shifts, rotating shifts, or irregular shifts. These irregular hours can result in physical and mental stress for employees, as does working extra hours. This all can contribute to workplace fatigue, making employees less alert and impairing decision-making, concentration, and memory.

While some jobs are extremely dangerous, and others are less so, all jobs come with the risk of workplace injuries. Sometimes the injuries arise from the dangerous nature of the job, others come from safety violations, while still others happen on jobs that do not seem particularly dangerous at first glance. Construction workers, commercial fishermen, firefighters – you would expect on-the-job injuries in those and other professions. Office workers and other more seemingly mundane occupations, not so much. But repetitive motion injuries from typing and back injuries from lifting heavy boxes of office supplies are work-related injuries, too. They are covered by workers’ compensation just as much as injuries suffered while performing more inherently dangerous jobs.

Workplace Injuries Come in Many Forms

Many people think of workplace injuries as strictly resulting from actions performed during the course of performing the duties of your job. This is largely true. However, the causes of some workplace injuries could surprise you. Among the leading causes of injuries in the workplace are:

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