Getting injured or sick in the workplace is a more significant problem than most people might realize. While it is true that the number of reported non-fatal illnesses or injuries dropped from 4.2 million in 2005 to a little over 3 million in 2013, workplace incidents are still pose serious issues. The consequences of these accidents are vast, including missed days of work, legal fees, lost productivity, decreased morale among employees, equipment repair or replacement and the training of new employees or even loss of life. Monetarily, an employer can face hefty medical bills and compensation fees for an injured worker. In 2014, over 250,000 claims were submitted, ranging from mental stress to fractures and sprains. In total, over 11 billion dollars was paid out for these incidents. To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program.
Statistically, several common types of injuries or incidents occur most frequently in the workplace. While these are not exclusive to specific states, Maine and Vermont have reported the most accidents. The gathered information has also been broken down into several categories to highlight certain details more adequately. These statistics help OSHA as well as employers gain insight into areas that may need to be addressed in order to prevent workplace accidents.
THE MOST COMMON NON-FATAL ACCIDENTS
In 2013, over 1 million non-fatal accident reports were filed. They included over-exertion or strain, slips or falls, contact with equipment or objects, violent acts by animals or people encountered at work and transportation incidents. Such reports were also broken down by industry to provide perceptiveness into areas that seem to have more issues. In descending order by amount, these industries include local government, health care or social services, retail, manufacturing and hospitality.
THE MOST COMMON FATAL ACCIDENTS
Sadly, over 4,000 workers lost their lives in 2013 due to workplace incidents. While many of the reported fatalities fall into the same categories as non-fatal accidents, exposure to harmful environmental conditions or substances is the number one category for these unfortunate claims. Industries that saw the most fatalities include construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and government jobs. No price can be put on the loss of human life, making fatal workplace accidents truly devastating events.
Due to the countless workers’ compensation claims filed each year and the staggering number of reported workplace incidents; OSHA has put in place stricter guidelines and regulations for employers. OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and they serve an extremely significant purpose. They not only provide training, assistance and useful information to employers but they are the body that oversees workplace conditions, ensuring safety for all employees. They regulate and enforce protective health and safety standards for employers. These standards promote a healthier and less risky environment for workers.
There were multiple violations recorded by OSHA for 2014. The violations were noted and penalized in an effort to thwart potential accidents while on the job. The range of violations is broad but does somewhat pinpoint industries that may need improvement. As a whole, the construction industry faced several violations that included improper fall protection as well as ladder and scaffolding issues. Many problems were found among a large spectrum of industries such as improper respiratory protection, poor communication concerning hazardous materials, misuse or operation of machinery, improper electrical wiring as well as several others.
In previous years, OSHA required employers to report injuries that resulted in three or more hospitalizations, categorized as catastrophes. However, they have since reevaluated that regulation and determined that a stricter guideline needed to be put in place. Effective January 1, 2015 all injuries that take occur in the workplace must be reported within 24 hours of the incident. This will not only ensure responses that are more accurate but will paint a broader picture of true on the job accidents. OSHA has reason to believe that tens of thousands of injuries go unreported which is a real cause for concern. The new regulation will not only hold employers more accountable for accidents occurring on their watch but will also help them be more aware of the potential problem areas in their facilities.
In the last two years, the majority of states have seen an increase in the total amount of paid workers’ compensation benefits. It is this increase that is concerning and OSHA hopes to work with employers to help greatly reduce such claims. Employers can do their part by following the regulations set forth by the administration, regularly checking their workplace, inspecting equipment and making sure employees are following all safety rules and guidelines.