Workplace injuries are common in high-risk jobs, but they can also occur in jobs where people don’t expect to be injured. An example would be running into a sharp corner desk in the office if walking too fast, or even an injury as small as a paper cut. While those are minor injuries and don’t really affect one’s ability to work afterwards, there are more serious injuries that can leave lasting impacts on one’s total health.
Physical Health Consequences
Rushing through work, not paying attention, improper use of PPE (personal protective equipment), a cluttered workspace, and being overworked are some of the reasons why workplace injuries occur. The six most common workplace injuries are as follows:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Falling objects/struck by equipment
- Work vehicle crashes/collisions
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Fire and Explosions
These common injuries can cause things like broken bones/fractures, muscle strains, spinal cord injuries, respiratory illnesses, burns, and many other injuries.
Certain workplace injuries may require the injured worker to receive ongoing care, meaning that treatment isn’t a one-time thing. Victims of workplace injuries may have to attend physical therapy or receive other types of treatment on a continuous basis after their injury. This is a reason why workers may need critical illness insurance in addition to health insurance and filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
Another common workplace injury that doesn’t get much discussion is hearing loss. Jobs that require its workers to be exposed to loud noises on a regular basis are more at risk for having its workers experience some level of hearing loss. Examples of these jobs include:
- Airline maintenance personnel
- Baggage handlers
- Carpenters and construction workers
- DJs, musicians, and nightclub workers
- Railroad workers
The majority of these professions require its workers to wear ear protection, but faulty or the improper use of ear protection increases the risk for hearing loss. When a worker suffers from hearing loss due to their job, it may not seem as significant as other workplace injuries that are more visibly seen.
Mental Health Consequences
More often than not, workplace injuries are associated with physical ailments, but they can be very stressful and have a major impact on one’s mental health as well.
Diminished Quality of Life
If a workplace injury has prevented you from working, it’s likely that it has also prevented you from doing other activities— including the ones you enjoy. For example, you may not be able to do fun weekend activities such as hiking or swimming, and not being able to do these activities with friends or family members can start to impact those relationships. Also, if it’s not clear whether or not you’ll completely heal from an injury, there’s the risk of developing a form of depression.
Impacts the Entire Family
If the provider of an entire family becomes injured and can’t work for a while, this will also put strain on the entire family. For example, the spouse of the injured worker may have to take on more hours at their own job to help make ends meet, and may even have to help their injured spouse with bathing and dressing. The children of the injured worker may also have to help pitch in with chores— a transition that some may not be ready for.
All families go through changes, but they’re usually gradual. The sudden injury of a primary breadwinner can put strain on the mental health of all family members, including the injured worker.
Mental Stress Can Manifest in Physical Ways
The most stressful part of suffering from a work injury (aside from the pain) is the possibility of having to miss work because of it. Missed work equals lost wages, especially if you don’t receive your full payout from your workers’ compensation claim. The next most stressful part of dealing with a workplace injury is the fact that health insurance doesn’t always cover the full costs of treatment, especially if there’s ongoing treatment involved.
Not only does this stress have the potential to cause anxiety and depression, but stress can show up as physical ailments too. Examples include chronic headaches, asthma and other respiratory issues, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.
The best thing to do is to work together with your staff members to determine which work injuries are most likely to happen at your workplace, and how you as a team can work to prevent them. Also, make sure that your employer has workers’ compensation insurance in the event that a workplace injury does occur to ensure that an injured worker will have some financial help.