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:
- Overexertion injuries are the top cause of workplace injuries, which might come as a surprise. However, such injuries generally arise from difficult physical labor, which can include lifting, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing activities at work.
- Slips and trips are the second-leading cause of workplace injuries and can be a challenge to prevent. Employees in any occupation or work setting can slip and fall on wet or slippery floors, or floors littered with foreign objects.
- Contact with other objects or equipment is the number three cause of workplace injuries and includes being struck by a moving object, striking against a piece of equipment or other object, being caught in a piece of machinery and crushed, squeezed, or pinched, or being crushed or otherwise cause in a collapsing structure, equipment, or other materials.
While those three categories of injuries are most common, other on-the-job injuries also occur frequently, including:
- Traffic accidents commonly happen when employees drive a vehicle as part of their employment, such as on sales calls, delivery trips, or driving construction equipment or vehicles
- Falls from heights, such as on construction sites where employees perform tasks on roofs, ladders, and on stairways, as well as other kinds of other elevated platforms.
- Acts of violence by co-workers: These can include attacks by co-workers resulting from personal animus, mental illness, or any other causes.
Workers’ Comp is Not an Absolute Bar to Other Recovery
Almost all injuries at work are covered exclusively by workers’ compensation, which provides injured employees with income while they recover from any injuries they incur on the job that leave them unable to work. Medical bills generally are covered and wages for lost work time replaced, regardless of any fault in causing the accident. The trade-off is that employees generally cannot sue their employer for work injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation.
There are situations in which other avenues of compensation are available, however. Employees still can sue if their employer intentionally causes their injury, although that is rare. More common alternative means of compensation arise when the negligence of a third party caused the employee’s injury. This can arise when the injury occurs in the course of job duties, and could include such situations as a traffic accident where the employee is executing work duties or where the other driver is at fault. The employee still would be allowed to recover for workers’ compensation, but also could sue the at-fault driver.