Usually, when people think of workers’ compensation, they think of severe injuries in physically demanding jobs. On the contrary, people in all fields and industries can incur injuries on the job that qualifies for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation insurance is coverage designed to help employees recover from injuries sustained in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private industry reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace-related injuries and illnesses in 2020. Both employers and employees need to know the most common claims for workers’ compensation.
8 Most Common Claims for Workers’ Compensation
Strains and Sprains
Strain injuries occur when a tendon or muscle is torn or stretched. This can happen when using improper lifting techniques or lifting awkwardly shaped objects. Strain injuries account for 30% of workers’ compensation claims in the United States.
Repetitive strain injuries can also occur from making the same motion over and over again. These types of injuries can be more challenging regarding workers’ compensation because the symptoms are more gradual. If you can connect symptoms, like pain and swelling, to a required workplace task, be sure to report symptoms.
Sprains occur when a ligament is torn or stretched. It is particularly common on wrists and ankles. Sprains account for over 8% of workers’ compensation claims.
This is the most common claim for workers’ compensation. Overuse or overexertion happens when a person strains or pulls a muscle or joint or slips a disk from overextending to lift, pull, push, or turn an item. It is most common in physically demanding jobs like construction and medicine, but it can happen in any occupation. Here are some common overuse injuries:
- Nerve damage
- Shoulder injuries
- Back injuries
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Runner’s knee
- Tennis Elbow
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Incidents caused by slips, trips, and falls can lead to various injuries like sprains, contusions, and lacerations. Slips, trips, and falls account for 27.5% of workplace injuries. These types of injuries generally occur when the floor is wet or when the floor is uneven. It can also cause reaction injuries. Reaction injuries happen when you prevent yourself from falling but injure another part of your body in the process, like when you trip and use your arm to prevent your body from hitting the ground but scrape your arm in the process.
Severe Cuts and Lacerations
Lacerations, or cuts, account for over 11% of workers’ compensation claims. These often occur in the food service industry and other industries that frequently use sharp objects. Severe cuts and lacerations happen when a worker uses a tool that is kept in poor condition or misuses the tool. Employees should be advised to keep areas tidy and never leave equipment unattended to decrease the risk of severe cuts and lacerations. Additionally, employers should proactively replace or sharpen dull blades and machinery parts.
Struck by or Against an Object
These types of injuries occur when something falls on an employee or when an employee falls into something. These injuries can happen in any occupational setting. In offices and retail stores, things can fall off high shelves and hit an employee. Machines or tools in factories or construction sites can fall and strike an employee. An array of injuries can occur by being struck by or against an object.
Workplace violence is a more recent and devastating addition to this list. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 375 workers were killed in shootings on the job in 2012 in the US. This number represents all industries in the US.
Machinery accidents are one of workers’ compensation’s most dangerous and common claims. These types of accidents occur due to misuse of equipment or faulty machinery. These injuries can be hazardous and lead to serious health complications and medical costs. To prevent machinery accidents, employers should provide proper training for using equipment and frequently check on the operation of the machine.
Burns are tissue injuries caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, steam, sunlight, or radiation. These injuries are particularly common in the food services industry but also in industries that frequently use chemicals. Burns can also happen internally with smoke inhalation. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn when handling chemicals or hot materials to prevent burn injuries.
One of the most significant issues with workers’ compensation claims is a lack of understanding surrounding the process. Work Health Solutions provides Workers Comp Care and Management, which can help employers and employees better understand the workers’ compensation claims process!
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