10 Common Causes For Injury At Work (And How To Avoid)

Posted 27.09.22 by:

There are more common causes for injury at work than we would all admit. What is the most common cause of injury in the workplace? That’s a good question. No one wants to face an at-work injury, not employees, management, or HR. But it does happen, and far too often at that. 

In the United States, 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported in 2019 to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. And out of those 2.8 million, there were 880,220 that caused at least one missed day of work in private industry. 

If the average worker in the US makes a median wage of $19.33/hour and works a standard 8-hour day, ignoring obvious extra expenses like insurance and other costs, a business would be looking at a daily wage of about $155. And that adds up to 136.4 million dollars for the 880,220 single days of lost work. Now, remember a large percentage will have more than a single missed day of work. That’s a lot of money being lost for injuries.

What if you could prevent some of these injuries? Or even prevent them all (okay, that’s wishful thinking). With a robust incident reporting regiment, you may be able to reduce the injuries that occur at work drastically.

We’re going to dive into the top 10 injuries that happen at work and do our best to understand how we can avoid these kinds of injuries in the workplace. So, stick around, and I’ll bring a few tips to the table that I bet you didn’t think of. Without further to do, here are the top 10 injuries that can happen at work and some great ways to prevent them.

Injury TypePercentage of Workplace InjuriesCost To Industry (Billions)Avoidance Tips
Overexertion (outside source involvement)23.65%$13.1Pre & mid-shift stretching, close supervision to enforce break provisioning
Falls on the same level 18.72%$10.4Trip hazard removal, dangerous situation documentation
Struck by object or equipment9.42%$5.2Near-miss reporting to create safe systems of coexistence for people and equipment. Adherence to falling object safety procedures.
Falls to a lower level8.99%$5.0Personal protective fall arrest equipment training and use.
Other exertions or bodily reactions 6.65%$3.7Pre & mid-shift stretching helps prevent injury. Dangerous exposure hazard limiting through proper incident reporting.
Roadway motor vehicle incidents4.88%$2.7Complete regular re-training for the operation of vehicles. When incidents occur, report using a vehicle accident report or similar form.
Slip or trip (no fall)3.93%$2.2Dangerous situations that present themselves due to trip hazards need reporting and resolution. Signage for any non-avoidable trip hazards at the minimum.
Caught or pinched by equipment or objects3.48%$1.9If injured, report using an injury report form. Avoid dangerous situations, and report near-miss incidents to avoid repeat accidents.
Repetitive motion injury (microtask)2.87%$1.6Pre & mid-shift stretches and position rotation may be found appropriate in this situation.
Struck against object or equipment2.07%$1.2Report near miss and dangerous situation incidents to analyze any potential for struck and pin incidents to occur. Create designated pedestrian and equipment walkways and travel zones to eliminate contact.

Want to learn more about incident reporting? Read our article about the 10 Times An Incident Report Should Be Completed to know when you should be completing an incident report.

The 10 Most Common Workplace Injuries Explained (Causes And Avoidance)

We’re going to discuss each of these ten common workplace injury types in more depth and see if there aren’t some clever ways we can avoid these sorts of incidents at work.


Overexertion is a big problem when it comes to workplaces. Many companies such as landscapers, road repair crews, construction, security, and others, work outside in the day’s heat. It can be very easy for someone working outside on a hot day to lose track of time and water intake.

Heat and sun are two of the most common contributors to overexertion. Here are a few tips to help avoid overexertion injuries and incidents at your place of business.

  • Stay hydrated and keep fellow employees hydrated. Don’t be afraid to suggest a worker takes a moment to grab a cool bottle of water.
  • In the heat, take ‘cooling’ breaks to avoid overheating. When you’ve deadlines, pushing your staff to meet goal requirements can be easy. But watch overdoing it, especially in the heat of a hot day. Make sure you and your team get enough time to cool off. People work more efficiently when comfortable.
  • Pace yourself and your team. You get more work done by pacing yourself and setting a plan with goals than you do rushing into it without a plan for success.

Overexertion Avoidance Tip For Managers – Keep a close eye on the weather. When you see a hot day coming, ensure you have extra water available for your team. Use Dangerous Situation reports to help educate staff on the dangers posed by any extreme conditions that could trigger overexertion.

Falls On The Same Level 

Falls on the same level occur when a trip hazard presents itself. It is mostly something like an uneven floor, a box or object left in a walkway, or even a rubber mat by a door or hallway.

We all hope that when someone falls, they only bruise their ego. However, a fall on the same level could become serious quickly if a person hits their head on something as they fall.

Using something like a near-miss incident report when a person slips but is not injured is an excellent way to promote workplace safety investigations. It also helps to promote a progressive safety culture that cares for employees’ good.

When a team member is injured, it is wise to complete a team member’s injury report. Just ensure that it is filled out and submitted within your state or province’s governing body’s deadlines, such as the OSHA in the United States.

Were you looking for more incident report templates for your business? Find them here.

Struck By Object Or Equipment

Think about the following situation: A construction site has scaffolding, and workers are up on multiple levels completing their duties. One of the workers on an upper level loses their grip on one of their hand tools, which falls and bounces off the scaffold. 

A worker below, merely passing through, is struck on the shoulder by a falling tool. Despite the level of protective equipment, the tool breaks the worker’s collarbone. A harrowing experience for the worker ensues.

The standard falling tool is the quintessential example of a struck-by object incident. Another common type is struck by equipment like a forklift or pallet truck, also both quite common, unfortunately.
How can these sorts of situations be avoided? Aside from a robust incident reporting process that includes identifying hazards before they cause danger is essential. Areas where falling object hazards are present should have proper signage and markings such as pylons, caution tape, and other protective devices.

Falls To A Lower Level

Multiple industries utilize ladders and other such climbing apparatus in the workplace. Electricians, overhead door mechanics, roofers, and many others use these tools daily. And every day, someone slips and falls off one of these sorts of devices to have an injury incident from falling to a lower level.

Any time a potential fall hazard exists, a company should have, at the minimum, at least one worker per site who is trained in first aid. One of the big risks to injury after a fall is not realizing the extent of the injuries; such is the case with spinal injuries. A worker properly trained in first aid will know what to look for in this situation and potentially help save a person’s life while also helping limit company exposure by providing trained personnel for emergencies.

Falls to a lower level almost always result in an employee injury report requirement.

Other Exertions Or Bodily Reactions

Sometimes an employee might exert a part of their body. For example, a worker who pulls a muscle or gets a reaction to some sort of cleaning agent or similar. These incidents account for about 6.65% of workplace injuries. And as vague as the type may seem, they can still be grouped together into this single injury group type.

How do you avoid unknown exertions or reactions? A great way to start is by maintaining a robust digital reporting solution. The only way to prevent injuries is to identify all the potential ways the injuries could occur. Documenting events where people are injured or even near-miss events that did not have injuries is critical. But how do you know there was an incident if you’re at home and one of your staff filed a report? 

Here’s where a digital reporting solution like that offered by 1ST Reporting comes in handy. With the ability to set up and control instant notifications, you’ll never miss another emergency incident reported by your staff.

Roadway Motor Vehicle Incidents

Motor vehicle accidents are another major cause of injury for those at work. The number of US workers who drive service or other vehicles is astounding, with an incredible 3.5 million workers behind the wheel of a vehicle for their work. (source)

When an incident occurs on a roadway with a motor vehicle, there are always in-house vehicle incidents or accident reports for completion in most businesses. However, most states and provinces also have government regulatory body requirements for reporting vehicle accidents. It’s the law in most areas, so understand that an in-house document may not meet the full legal requirements in your area.

Avoiding roadway motor vehicle accidents can only occur through training and following procedures (don’t drive during a downpour, use extra caution in inclement conditions, et cetera). However, in-house reporting might lead to ways you can improve your driver’s procedures to help minimize accident potential.

Slip Or Trip (No Fall)

Slips and trips don’t need to end in a fall to have an injury necessarily. Just take a look at our featured image. What if someone slips or trips but catches a railing so they don’t fall? In this sort of scenario, a person might twist an ankle, a common occurrence that most people have faced at one time or another in their lives.

So, how can we avoid something so common? The first is to identify any possible trip hazards and eliminate these hazards. When a hazard cannot be eliminated, proper signage and even specific procedures for the area must find implemented into your safety strategy. 

Any time a slip or trip hazard is present, wise procedures would include documenting either a near miss or dangerous situation. However, it may require a safety leading indicator report to aid in pushing a resolution forward with management.

Caught Or Pinched By Equipment Or Objects

Much more common in construction and manufacturing environments, an event where a person is injured by equipment or pinching happens about 3.48% of the time concerning at-work incidents. The injury could stem from being caught in moving equipment like gears or v-belts. These sorts of injuries may prove life-threatening if the equipment is something like a tractor-trailer pinning a person between the truck and loading dock. Unfortunately, this sort of incident has claimed many a life and limb from unfortunate workers.

Preventing catch and pinch injuries is typically avoided by machine guarding and process implementation. The machine guarding is fairly straightforward: a physical guard must exist wherever a pinch or catch point in moving equipment exists. As for process implementation, this sort of thing has more to do with training and limiting exposure areas where a person might get trapped in equipment. Also, implementing zero-tolerance policies for working on live equipment is a wise and often legal requirement. Safety cannot cut corners, and neither should you.

Repetitive Motion Injury (Microtask)

Have you heard of carpal tunnel? Any job that requires multiple repetitive movements or microtasks can result in injury to staff. It may seem as simple as a more ergonomic desk, chair, or keyboard to resolve the injury. The problem with these sorts of injuries is that they creep up over time, and once a worker is affected, it can take some time to mend.

How do you avoid these minor injuries that can plague a company? It isn’t like a near miss, or dangerous situation report will surface about a type of keyboard in the office. The best way to prevent these injuries is to talk to staff regularly about their day-to-day processes and identify any potential issues before they become injury incidents. Using a safety-leading indicator form may be your best option here if you aren’t using the preferred digital reporting system like that offered by 1ST Reporting.

Struck Against Object Or Equipment

With a total average of 2.07% of workplace injuries, the event of striking an object or equipment often involves head injury. When a person is not wearing a hard hat, and perhaps their eyes are on their phone instead of on the surroundings, these incidents find a home.

People often hit their heads on things as they navigate areas when not paying enough attention. And with the global smartphone craze, more and more people are finding themselves walking into things from street posts to signs to door frames and even walking into walls. Just take a look at some of the funny videos online about people not paying attention when they walk, eyes glued to their screens.

A wise policy for businesses is to keep the phones in their pockets, or even better, in team member lockers where they won’t distract workers all day. It can be a touchy situation, though, as many people rely on modern technology to know of family emergencies and other such situations. And given how many people are hopelessly addicted to their phones, this potential hazard causing people to hurt themselves on objects or equipment is likely only to grow in number.

Avoiding struck incidents can only be accomplished by fermenting a sense of safety and compliance with paying attention to one’s surroundings. For example, many facilities institute rules where no cell phones are allowed on manufacturing floors. These sorts of rules may seem strict, but they can save lives.

The Last Word On Common Injuries At Work And Their Causes

Injuries at work can cripple a person’s health and a business’s finances in a concise time. These are some critical reasons why incident reporting and prevention are essential to a successful business. And a big part of successfully implementing a reporting strategy is training staff and educating staff about potential hazards, and the importance of reporting said hazards. 

Supporting a structured and efficient health and safety strategy is vital to reducing incidents that cause injury and should be the goal of any management team. Why not try digital reporting solutions like 1ST Reporting and find out today how we can aid in speeding up your reporting process? From uploading media to controlling instant notification settings, a digital reporting solution will always leave you and your company better prepared. And a more prepared business is one that saves through accident prevention.


  1. Featured image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay
  2. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm
  3. https://www.epi.org/publication/swa-wages-2019/#:~:text=The%20median%20wage%20in%202019,time%2C%20full%2Dyear%20worker.
  4. https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2019/04/11/523397.htm
  5. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/06/america-keeps-on-trucking.html#:~:text=More%20than%203.5%20million%20people,occupations%20in%20the%20United%20States.

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