Occupational injury

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An occupational injury is bodily damage resulting from working. The most usual organs involved are the spine, hands, the head, lungs, eyes, skeleton, and skin.

Common causes of industrial injury are poor ergonomics, manual handling of heavy loads, misuse or failure of equipment, exposure to general hazards, inadequate safety training and clothing, jewellery or long hair that becomes tangled in machinery.

General hazards in a work environment include electricity, explosive materials, fire, flammable gases, heat, height, high pressure gases and liquids, hot gases and liquids, powerful or sharp moving machinery, oxygen-free gases or spaces, poisonous gases, radiation, toxic materials, work on, near or under water, work on, near or under weak or heavy structures.

There are many methods of preventing or reducing industrial injuries, including anticipation of problems by risk assessment, safety training, control banding, personal protective equipment safety guards, mechanisms on machinery, and safety barriers. In addition, past problems can be analyzed to find their root causes by using a technique called root cause analysis.


It has been estimated that worldwide there are more than 350,000 workplace fatalities and more than 270 million workplace injuries annually.[1]

United States[edit]

In the United States in 2012, 4,383 workers died from job injuries, 92% of which were men,[2] and nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries & illness were reported which costed businesses a collective loss of $198.2 billion and 60 million workdays.[3]

In the United States in 2007, 5,488 workers died from job injuries, 92% of which were men,[4] and 49,000 died from work-related injuries.[5] NIOSH estimates that 4 million workers in the U.S. in 2007 suffered from non-fatal work related injuries or illnesses.[6]

According to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 15 workers die from traumatic injuries each day in the United States, and an additional 200 workers are hospitalized.[7]

In the U.S. the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes available extensive statistics on workplace accidents and injuries.[8] For example:

BLS US fatalities by industry 2010.png BLS US fatal injuries by occupation 2010.png

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom in 2013/2014, 133 people were killed at work. Of those 133 people, 89 were employed, while 44 were self-employed.[9]

Most Dangerous Sectors[edit]

Construction: 42 deaths [9]

Agriculture: 27 deaths [9]

Waste and Recycling: four deaths [9]

Other: 60 deaths

Of all the workplace accidents that resulted in death, the most common were falls from height, contact with moving machinery and being struck by a vehicle. These types of accidents resulted in over half of all recorded deaths.[9]

Number of Injuries at Work[edit]

In 2013/2014, an estimated 629,000 injuries occurred at work.[9]

Of these injuries 629,000 injuries, 203,000 led to more than 3 days absence from work. Of these, over 148,000 resulted in the victim being absent from work for more than 7 days.[9]

Most Common Injuries[edit]

Slips, trips and falls account for over a third of all injuries that happen at work. Incorrect handling of items was the most common cause of injuries that led to absences from work of more than 7 days.[9] Upper limb injuries represented 47.3% of workplace injuries in 2010-2011, the most common area injured.[10]

In all, over 1,900,000 working days were lost in 2013/2014 due to slips, trips and falls.[9]

Employer Prosecutions[edit]

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted 582 cases in 2013/2014, with at least one conviction secured in 547 cases (94%).[9]

Local authorities prosecuted a total of 92 cases during the same period, with at least one conviction achieved in 89 cases (97%).[9]

A total of 13,790 notices were issued by the HSE and local authorities, with over £16,700,000 issued in fines.[9]

Employees at Risk[edit]

Unsurprisingly, occupation is the biggest influence on the risk of workplace injuries. Workers new to the job are at a much higher risk of injury than more experienced staff, while shift workers and part-time staff also have a greater risk of being injured at work.[9]


In Taiwan, there were 14,261 occupational injuries recorded in 2010. 45% of these involved trauma to the upper limbs.[10]


Prevention of injuries is a focus of regulation and research. A 2013 Cochrane review found low-quality evidence showing that inspections, especially focused inspections, can reduce work-related injuries in the long term.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barling, J., & Frone, M. R. (2004). Occupational injuries: Setting the stage. In J. Barling & M. R. Frone (Eds.), The psychology of workplace safety. Washington, DC: APA.
  2. ^ US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts, 1992-2012."
  3. ^ Workplace Safety By The Numbers - "U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics"
  4. ^ US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. "National census of fatal occupational injuries in 2007." Washington, DC: US Department of Labor; 2008. Retrieved at: About NIOSH. Available at [1].
  5. ^ Steenland K, Burnett C, Lalich N, Ward E, Hurrell J. Dying for work: the magnitude of U.S. mortality from selected causes of death associated with occupation. Am J Ind Med 2003;43:461--82. Retrieved at:About NIOSH.
  6. ^ US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workplace injuries and illnesses in 2007. Washington, DC: US Department of Labor; 2008. Retrieved at: About NIOSH. Available at [2].
  7. ^ "Traumatic Occupational Injuries". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 29 May 2009. 
  8. ^ http://www.bls.gov/iif
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m UK Workplace Accident Statistics
  10. ^ a b Hou, Wen-Hsuan; Chi, Ching-Chi; Lo, Heng-Lien Daniel; Kuo, Ken N.; Chuang, Hung-Yi (2013). "Vocational rehabilitation for enhancing return-to-work in workers with traumatic upper limb injuries". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 10: CD010002. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010002.pub2. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 24122624. 
  11. ^ Mischke, Christina; Verbeek, Jos H.; Job, Jenny; Morata, Thais C.; Alvesalo-Kuusi, Anne; Neuvonen, Kaisa; Clarke, Simon; Pedlow, Robert I. (2013). "Occupational safety and health enforcement tools for preventing occupational diseases and injuries". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 8: CD010183. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010183.pub2. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 23996220. 

External links[edit]