Historically, workplaces have ranked as one of the most dangerous places in America. Common injuries include sprains, broken bones, loss of limb and psychological harm. Fatalities have also been high. In 2020 alone, the BLS reported almost 5,000 cases of workplace injuries. However, this is more than 10% lower than the previous year. It is not clear whether the BLS includes psychological cases in these statistics.
What Is a Workplace Accident?
A workplace accident is an unplanned event that causes harm to an employee while at work or completing work-related tasks. This can include slips, trips, falls, lifting injuries, and being struck by objects. It can also include car accidents while driving for work, such as when a security officer has a traffic accident during patrol.
What Is a Workplace Injury?
A workplace injury is any type of harm an employee suffers while at work. Injuries can include physical examples, such as cuts, bruises, and broken bones. It can also involve psychological injuries, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Accidents account for most workplace injuries but not all of them. Here are some common workplace injuries resulting from accidents:
- Back injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Shoulder injuries
What Are the Most Common Causes of Workplace Accidents?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration believes that all workplace accidents are preventable. Most compliant organizations operate on the same principle. They take a proactive approach to workplace safety and aim for zero accidents on the job. However, even with the best intentions, an accident or two slips through the cracks. Here are some of the most common causes.
Failure To Keep Up With Maintenance
All machinery needs regular maintenance to function correctly. An organization failing to keep up with this puts employees at risk. Poorly maintained equipment is more likely to break down or malfunction, leading to accidents.
Sometimes, the equipment itself is faulty. This could result from defective manufacturing or damage during shipping. Either way, it’s essential to check all equipment before using it. Workers should report anything that looks suspicious.
Improper Use of Equipment
Even if the equipment is in good condition, employees might not know how to use it properly. This can lead to accidents, especially when using the equipment for the first time. Organizations should provide proper training and instructions on how to use all equipment.
Employees should also learn how to follow safety procedures and what to do in the event of an accident. Training should be ongoing and employees should have the opportunity to ask questions if they are unsure about something. Employers should also provide training on how to respond to emergencies, such as evacuations for fires.
Lack of Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment is any gear that helps protect an employee from injury. PPE can include hard hats, safety glasses and gloves. In some cases, it might also include respirators and earplugs. Employers are responsible for providing the necessary PPE for their employees.
Inadequate Safety Procedures
Every organization should have safety procedures in place to help prevent accidents. These procedures should be specific to the organization’s industry and type of work done. Employers should also review them regularly and update them as needed.
Ideally, employees remain aware of the dangers in their work environments and take steps to avoid them. This includes following safety procedures, using equipment properly and wearing the appropriate PPE. Note that most jurisdictions operate on a no-fault basis for workers’ compensation, so partial or total fault is generally irrelevant.
What Are Some Common OSHA Citations?
In 2019, OSHA conducted more than 33,000 federal inspections and more than 42,000 state plan inspections. After reviewing the data collected, the administration reported these top 10 violation areas:
- Fall protection in the construction industry
- Respiratory protection across general industries
- Ladders in the construction industry
- Communication of hazards across general industries
- Scaffolding in the construction industry
- Fall protection training in the construction industry
- The use of lockouts or tags to control hazardous energy across general industries
- Eye and face protection in the construction industry
- Powered industrial trucks across general industries
- Machine and machine guarding across general industries
Note that OSHA refers to all industries not included in maritime, construction and agriculture as “general.” It excluded these three industries because they typically involve the highest risk and require individual monitoring.
What Are Some Consequences of a Workplace Accident?
The consequences can range from minor injuries to death. Employees injured in an accident may miss work days, leading to lost wages. In some cases, they might never return to work at all. This can put a financial strain on the affected workers and their families.
Employers may also face legal consequences for employee injuries. They can face lawsuits for negligence or wrongful death. In some cases, OSHA might also issue fines. Some companies commit such egregious acts of negligence that they can never open their doors again.
Workplace accidents can have a ripple effect beyond individual employees and their families. They can impact the entire organization, from its bottom line to its reputation. Consequently, they should take steps to prevent them.
Who Is Responsible for Workplace Accidents?
Responsibility and liability are complex areas in personal injury law. An experienced attorney can review the details and determine who to hold accountable for damages.
Even if an employee causes an accident at work and is considered responsible for the accident, he or she might still receive workers’ compensation. In this instance, its insurance provider is liable for the incident.
More often than not, however, workplace accidents occur due to employer negligence. Even when employees have a hand in safety violations, managers have typically allowed an organizational culture that does not prioritize safety to develop.
Some workplace accidents might also result from vendors onsite. For example, the janitorial team might start mopping the floors, but someone forgets to put a caution sign out. If a worker or customer slips and falls, the vendor and its insurance company might become liable for damages.
When companies rent commercial spaces, liability becomes even more complex. Depending on the nature of the accident and the details of the commercial lease agreement, the landlord may be liable. For example, if the landlord failed to fix a leaking roof and that caused someone to slip and fall inside after heavy rains, the landlord could become liable.
Some landlords hire property managers to handle commercial real estate on their behalf. These professionals also bring insurance to the table. If the property manager should have fixed the leaking roof but failed to do so, someone who slips and falls after heavy rains could end up suing them instead.
Why Should You Hire an Attorney for a Workplace Accident?
An attorney can investigate the accident, help you gather evidence and file a claim. He or she can also determine what entities to file a claim or lawsuit against, so you have a better chance of a successful case and high compensation. If your case goes to trial, an experienced attorney can represent you in court.
It’s important to remember that your employer, its insurance company and other corporations will have attorneys working on their side. Level the playing field by hiring a professional to represent your case. Contact Siegfried and Jensen to get started.
Finding the Right Workplace Accident Attorney For You
Siegfried and Jensen’s lawyers will fight to protect your rights and make sure you’re treated fairly.
When you team up with our experienced accident and injury lawyers, you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll help you get what you need to recover your old life or adapt to a new one.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, accident reports, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure that everyone plays by the rules and treats you fairly.
Contact Siegfried & Jensen today for a free, no-pressure consultation.