An occupational injury is bodily damage resulting from working. The most common organs involved are the spine, hands, the head, lungs, eyes, skeleton, and skin. Occupational injuries can result from exposure to occupational hazards (physical, chemical, biological, or psychosocial), such as temperature, noise, insect or animal bites, blood-borne pathogens, aerosols, hazardous chemicals, radiation, and occupational burnout.
While many prevention methods are set in place, injuries may still occur due to poor ergonomics, manual handling of heavy loads, misuse or failure of equipment, exposure to general hazards, and inadequate safety training.
It has been estimated that worldwide there are more than 350,000 workplace fatalities and more than 270 million workplace injuries annually. In 2000 there were approximately 2.9 billion workers worldwide. Occupational injuries resulted in the loss of 3.5 years of healthy life for every 1,000 workers. 300,000 of the occupational injuries resulted in a fatality.
The most common occupations associated with these hazards vary throughout the world depending on the major industries in a particular country. Overall, the most hazardous occupations are in farming, fishing, and forestry. In more developed countries, construction  and manufacturing  occupations are associated with high rates of spine, hand, and wrist injuries.
In the United States in 2012, 4,383 workers died from job injuries, 92% of which were men, and nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries & illness were reported which cost businesses a collective loss of $198.2 billion and 60 million workdays. In 2007, 5,488 workers died from job injuries, 92% of which were men, and 49,000 died from work-related injuries. NIOSH estimates that 4 million workers in the U.S. in 2007 suffered from non-fatal work related injuries or illnesses.
According to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the 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.
In a study in the state of Washington, injured workers were followed for 14 years to determine the long term effects of work injury on employment. The work injuries resulted in an average of 1.06 years of lost productivity for each of the 31,588 allowed claims.
In 2010, 25% of occupational injuries and illnesses that were not fatal but caused work absences were related to injuries to the upper limb.
In the U.S. the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes available extensive statistics on workplace accidents and injuries. For example:
As in the United Kingdom, slips, trips and falls (STF) are common and account for 20-40% of disabling occupational injuries. Often these accidents result in a back injury that can persist to a permanent disability. In the United States, a high risk of back injuries occurs in the health care industry. 25% of reported injuries in health care workers in the state of Pennsylvania are for back pain. Among nurses, the prevalence of lower back pain may be as high as 72% mostly as a result of transferring patients. Some of these injuries can be prevented with the availability of patient lifts, improved worker training, and allocation of more time to perform work procedures. Another common type of injury is carpal tunnel syndrome associated with overuse of the hands and wrists. Studies on a cohort of newly hired workers have thus far identified forceful gripping, repetitive lifting of > 1 kg, and using vibrating power tools as high risk work activities.
Additionally, noise exposure in the workplace can cause hearing loss, which accounted for 14% of reported occupational illnesses in 2007. Many initiatives have been created to prevent this common workplace injury. For example, the Buy Quiet program encourages employers to purchase tools and machines that produce less noise and the Safe-In-Sound Award was created to recognize companies and program that excel in the area of hearing loss prevention.
Accidental injection or needlestick injuries are a common injury that plague agriculture workers and veterinarians. The majority of these injuries are located to the hands or legs, and can result in mild to severe reactions, including possible hospitalization. Due to the wide variety of biologics used in animal agriculture, needlestick injuries can result in bacterial or fungal infections, lacerations, local inflammation, vaccine/antibiotic reactions, amputations, miscarriage, and death. Due to daily human-animal interactions, livestock related injuries are also a prevalent injury of agriculture workers, and are responsible for the majority of nonfatal worker injuries on dairy farms. Additionally, approximately 30 people die of cattle and horse-related deaths in the United States annually.
Employees at risk
Perhaps the most important personal factor that predisposes to an increased risk is age. In the United States in 1998 17 million workers were over age 55 and by 2018 this population is expected to more than double. Workers in this age group are more likely to suffer from lower back pain that may be worsened by work conditions that normally do not affect a younger worker. Older workers are also more likely by be killed in a construction related fall. They are also at higher risk for injury due to age-related hearing loss, visual impairment, and use of multiple prescription medications that has been linked to higher rates of work injuries. In addition to age, other personal risk factors for injury include obesity  particularly its associated risk with back injury, and depression.
Lack of proper education or training can also predispose an individual to an occupational injury. For example, there is limited needlestick injury awareness among agriculture workers, and there is a need for comprehensive programs to prevent needlestick injuries on livestock operations. Proper animal handling techniques and training, or stockmanship, can also decrease the risk of livestock injury. A handler's timing, positioning, speed, direction of movement, and sounds made will affect the behavior of an animal and consequently the safety of the handler. The agriculture industry has begun to focus more on proper education and training, and has made a variety of resources available to producers. For example, organizations like the Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center (UMASH) have a variety of informational fact sheets and training videos easily accessible online. Additionally, organizations like Beef Quality Assurance offers stockmanship training seminars and demonstrations.
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. In 2013/2014, an estimated 629,000 injuries occurred at work. 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. If you do suffer an occupational injury in the UK, there are workplace injury advice guides online offering support on dealing with this situation.
- Construction: 42 deaths
- Agriculture: 27 deaths
- Waste and Recycling: four deaths
- 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.
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. In 2010-2011, injuries to the upper limb injuries made up 47% of non-fatal injuries at work in the UK.
In all, over 1,900,000 working days were lost in 2013/2014 due to slips, trips and falls.
Employees at risk
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.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted 582 cases in 2013/2014, with at least one conviction secured in 547 cases (94%).
Local authorities prosecuted a total of 92 cases during the same period, with at least one conviction achieved in 89 cases (97%).
A total of 13,790 notices were issued by the HSE and local authorities, with over £16,700,000 issued in fines.
Traumatic injuries to the upper limbs are the most frequent type of injury at work in Taiwan. In 2010, there were 14,261 occupational injuries recorded in 2010 and 45% of these involved trauma to the upper limbs.
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. A 2013 Cochrane review found low-quality evidence showing that inspections, especially focused inspections, can reduce work-related injuries in the long term.
- Occupational safety and health
- Occupational disease
- Occupational exposure banding
- Safety culture
- Work accident
- "Hazards & Exposures". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
- 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.
- Concha-Barrientos, Marisol; Nelson, Deborah Imel; Fingerhut, Marilyn; Driscoll, Timothy; Leigh, James (2005-12-01). "The global burden due to occupational injury". American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 48 (6): 470–481. doi:10.1002/ajim.20226. ISSN 0271-3586. PMID 16299709.
- Takala, Jukka; Hämäläinen, Päivi; Saarela, Kaija Leena; Yun, Loke Yoke; Manickam, Kathiresan; Jin, Tan Wee; Heng, Peggy; Tjong, Caleb; Kheng, Lim Guan (2014-01-01). "Global estimates of the burden of injury and illness at work in 2012". Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 11 (5): 326–337. doi:10.1080/15459624.2013.863131. ISSN 1545-9632. PMC 4003859. PMID 24219404.
- El-Menyar, Ayman; Mekkodathil, Ahammed; Al-Thani, Hassan (2016-01-01). "Occupational injuries in workers from different ethnicities". International Journal of Critical Illness and Injury Science. 6 (1): 25–32. doi:10.4103/2229-5151.177365. PMC 4795358. PMID 27051619.
- Dong, Xiuwen Sue; Wang, Xuanwen; Daw, Christina (2012-06-01). "Fatal falls among older construction workers". Human Factors. 54 (3): 303–315. doi:10.1177/0018720811410057. ISSN 0018-7208. PMID 22768635.
- Yu, Shanfa; Lu, Ming-Lun; Gu, Guizhen; Zhou, Wenhui; He, Lihua; Wang, Sheng (2012-03-01). "Musculoskeletal symptoms and associated risk factors in a large sample of Chinese workers in Henan province of China". American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 55 (3): 281–293. doi:10.1002/ajim.21037. ISSN 1097-0274. PMID 22125090.
- US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts, 1992-2012."
- Workplace Safety By The Numbers - "U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics"
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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 .
- "Traumatic Occupational Injuries". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
- Fulton-Kehoe, D.; Franklin, G.; Weaver, M.; Cheadle, A. (2000-06-01). "Years of productivity lost among injured workers in Washington state: modeling disability burden in workers' compensation". American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 37 (6): 656–662. doi:10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(200006)37:6<656::aid-ajim10>3.0.co;2-c. ISSN 0271-3586. PMID 10797509.
- Hou, Wen-Hsuan; Chi, Ching-Chi; Lo, Heng-Lien; Chou, Yun-Yun; Kuo, Ken N.; Chuang, Hung-Yi (2017). "Vocational rehabilitation for enhancing return-to-work in workers with traumatic upper limb injuries". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 12: CD010002. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010002.pub3. ISSN 1469-493X. PMC 6485969. PMID 29210462.
- "Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities". www.bls.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Courtney, T. K.; Sorock, G. S.; Manning, D. P.; Collins, J. W.; Holbein-Jenny, M. A. (2001-10-20). "Occupational slip, trip, and fall-related injuries--can the contribution of slipperiness be isolated?". Ergonomics. 44 (13): 1118–1137. doi:10.1080/00140130110085538. ISSN 0014-0139. PMID 11794761.
- Haladay, Douglas E.; Blorstad, Amanda L.; McBrier, Nicole M.; Denegar, Craig R.; Lengerich, Eugene J. (2012-01-01). "Back pain among health care workers in Pennsylvania 2002-2006". Work (Reading, Mass.). 41 (1): 93–98. doi:10.3233/WOR-2012-1288. ISSN 1875-9270. PMID 22246309.
- Schlossmacher, Roberta; Amaral, Fernando Gonçalves (2012-01-01). "Low back injuries related to nursing professionals working conditions: a systematic review". Work (Reading, Mass.). 41 Suppl 1 (Supplement 1): 5737–5738. doi:10.3233/WOR-2012-0935-5737. ISSN 1875-9270. PMID 22317669.
- D'Arcy, Laura P.; Sasai, Yasuko; Stearns, Sally C. (2012-04-01). "Do assistive devices, training, and workload affect injury incidence? Prevention efforts by nursing homes and back injuries among nursing assistants". Journal of Advanced Nursing. 68 (4): 836–845. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05785.x. ISSN 1365-2648. PMC 3203326. PMID 21787370.
- Evanoff, Bradley; Dale, Ann Marie; Deych, Elena; Ryan, Daniel; Franzblau, Alfred (2012-01-01). "Risk factors for incident carpal tunnel syndrome: results of a prospective cohort study of newly-hired workers". Work (Reading, Mass.). 41 Suppl 1 (Supplement 1): 4450–4452. doi:10.3233/WOR-2012-0745-4450. ISSN 1875-9270. PMC 3752891. PMID 22317405.
- "Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Buy Quiet". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Safe•in•Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award". www.safeinsound.us. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- Buswell, ML.; Hourigan, M. (2015). "Needlestick Injuries in Agriculture Workers and Prevention Programs". Journal of Agromedicine. 21 (1): 82–90. doi:10.1080/1059924X.2015.1106996. PMID 26478987. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Buswell, M.; Hourigan, M. (9 June 2014). "Needlestick Injuries in Livestock Workers and Prevention Programs". Journal of Agromedicine. 19 (2): 206–207. doi:10.1080/1059924X.2014.889620. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Sorge, U.S.; Cherry, C. (July 2014). "Perception of the importance of human-animal interactions on cattle flow and worker safety on Minnesota dairy farms". Journal of Dairy Science. 97 (7): 4632–4638. doi:10.3168/jds.2014-7971. PMID 24835968.
- Farrow, A.; Reynolds, F. (2012-01-01). "Health and safety of the older worker" (PDF). Occupational Medicine. 62 (1): 4–11. doi:10.1093/occmed/kqr148. ISSN 1471-8405. PMID 22201131.
- Palmer, Keith T.; D'Angelo, Stefania; Harris, E. Clare; Linaker, Cathy; Coggon, David (2015-03-01). "Sensory impairments, problems of balance and accidental injury at work: a case-control study". Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 72 (3): 195–199. doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102422. ISSN 1470-7926. PMC 4467023. PMID 25523936.
- Kantor, Elizabeth D.; Rehm, Colin D.; Haas, Jennifer S.; Chan, Andrew T.; Giovannucci, Edward L. (2015-11-03). "Trends in Prescription Drug Use Among Adults in the United States From 1999-2012". JAMA. 314 (17): 1818–1831. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13766. ISSN 1538-3598. PMC 4752169. PMID 26529160.
- Palmer, Keith T.; D'Angelo, Stefania; Harris, E. Clare; Linaker, Cathy; Coggon, David (2014-05-01). "The role of mental health problems and common psychotropic drug treatments in accidental injury at work: a case-control study". Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 71 (5): 308–312. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101948. ISSN 1470-7926. PMC 3984107. PMID 24627304.
- Tao, Xuguang Grant; Lavin, Robert A.; Yuspeh, Larry; Bernacki, Edward J. (2015-07-01). "Is Obesity Associated With Adverse Workers' Compensation Claims Outcomes? A Pilot Study". Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 57 (7): 795–800. doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000000465. ISSN 1536-5948. PMID 26147547.
- Jadhav, Rohan; Achutan, Chandran; Haynatzki, Gleb; Rajaram, Shireen; Rautiainen, Risto (2015-01-01). "Risk Factors for Agricultural Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis". Journal of Agromedicine. 20 (4): 434–449. doi:10.1080/1059924X.2015.1075450. ISSN 1545-0813. PMID 26471953.
- "About OSHA". United States Department of Labor. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "Accident at Work Claims in Kent | Kent Compensation". www.kentcompensation.com. Archived from the original on 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "Workplace Injury Advice". Aston Knight Solicitors. 2019-10-14. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
- 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 (8): CD010183. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010183.pub2. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 23996220.
- Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts, 1992-2012
- NIOSH Publications on Traumatic Occupational Injury Topics (2008-2009), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health