Five Deadly Workplace Hazards
American workers face a wide range of hazards that can lead to accidents in the workplace. Often such accidents are entirely preventable through strong safety policies, worker training, and use of protective gear.
The U.S. Labor Department is partner with workplace accident attorneys, and various labor forces, to help accumulate information about workplace safety accidents in order to reduce the risks. The department has announced plans to create the first ever database of workplace safety information, which would be comprehensive and publicly accessible.
Some hazards can be found in almost every workplace in the United States. The following hazards, for instance, are present in almost every industry and contribute to many workplace injuries and fatalities every year:
- Fall Accidents – Falls are the number one cause of workplace injuries in the United States. Falls are especially likely in certain industries, such as construction, but workers in just about any industry may be at risk of a fall that leaves them with long-term disability (read more about the types of long term disabilities) or injuries.
- Electrical Hazards – Workers in many industries, including construction and manufacturing, are at risk of electrical injuries or electrocution. Many such injuries or deaths occur because workers lack safe electrical tools and equipment or because of defective equipment, faulty installation, damaged wiring and other malfunctioning components. Frequent maintenance of tools and equipment and training of workers to avoid electrical hazards can help mitigate most of these risks.
- Fires and Explosions – Fires can occur as a result of improper storage and handling of flammable materials and gases or electrical malfunctioning. Fires and explosions occur far more often than many realize and not just in the oil and gas refinery industry. The Georgia sugar refinery blast of 2008 that killed several workers is an example. In this case, sugar dust accumulated and ignited, causing a massive explosion and blaze.
- Repetitive Stress – Musculoskeletal injuries are a leading cause of disability among workers. These injuries occur when workers perform the same tasks repetitively for long periods of time. Some of the most common repetitive stress injuries are hand and wrist injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder injuries, neck injuries and back injuries.
- Toxic Exposure – Workers in a variety of industries are exposed to chemicals and fumes, not realizing that exposure to even small quantities could be dangerous. In other cases, prolonged exposure puts workers at risk of occupational diseases. For instance, toxic exposure to benzene could place a worker at a higher risk of several types of cancer.