At the Blackwell Law Firm, we talk with many people who have been hurt at work. Some types of accidents occur much more frequently than others. A recent study by Travelers Insurance indicated the most frequent causes of workplace injuries. These causes include:
- Material handling
- Slips, trips and falls
- Being struck by an object
- Accidents involving tools
- Injuries over time — overuse or strain
A closer look at the numbers reveals much more information. For example, falls from heights are a primary cause of injuries and deaths in the construction industry. In our practice, we have seen devastating falls from scaffolds, mobile lifts and cranes on construction sites. We have seen other falls that occurred because personal protective equipment was not provided.
I’ve written about construction-related falls in the past. We’ve helped many construction workers injured in serious falls.
While falls are commonly associated with construction sites, material handling injuries (typically lifting injuries) are especially common in manufacturing and retail jobs. In many of these jobs the worker must lift heavy items throughout the workday without help or support. This lifting can involve bending as well as overhead work. And, the lifting may also require the worker to grasp and hold odd sized weights.
Many of the injury victims we help share a common background — their employers could have prevented the accident and injuries with a little safety planning. In fact, a little corporate safety planning could prevent many workplace injuries of all types. A Travelers executive noted:
The most common injuries we see can often be prevented if the proper safety measures are in place . . .
Our firm takes these claims seriously. We routinely go to trial for our injured clients. And, we take our role as a safety advocate seriously.
More companies should practice real safety so their workers never experience the pain of injury, the fear of losing income, or the struggle of coping with disability. In our prior safety articles, we’ve argued our workers’ compensation laws should be amended to encourage good corporate safety and to penalize bad corporate safety. Right now, our workers’ compensation laws are a one-way street. They are a one-way street where workers suffer all the pain of injury. They are a one-way street where workers can even be denied benefits for certain safety violations. Yet, the employer has no safety penalty for bad acts. Safety should not be a one-way street where workers face the ultimate risk alone.