More than one in five Americans say they have been injured on the job, a new survey from FindLaw.com reveals. Balking at the idea that injuries are limited to manufacturing and construction work, the survey results show that traditional workplaces are rife with potential hazards.
The survey's findings serve as a worker's compensation wake-up call for in-house counsel.
Most Common Types of Worker Injuries
According to the survey, twenty-one percent of American adults say that they have suffered an injury while on the job that was serious enough for them to take time off of work.
The vast majority of injuries involve slip-and-fall accidents, repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal injuries.
Here's a breakdown of the types of injuries workers suffered:
- Falling/slipping: 31%
- Repetitive motion: 20% (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Injured by machinery or struck by object: 17%
- Motor vehicle accident: 12%
- Other musculoskeletal injury: 37% (e.g., overexertion, lifting, back pain, etc.)
- Workplace violence: 5%
- Burn (heat or chemical): 3%
- Other: 9%
If you're worried about the math, breathe easy: The figures total more than 100% due to multiple injuries.
Reminders for In-House Counsel
In-house attorneys should be proactive about the results and work directly with the company's HR department, maintenance personnel, and property management to address potential injury concerns -- before the issues come to you in the form of a lawsuit. A good start is to have a specialist come in to inspect the building and identify health hazards in common areas, shared workspaces, and individual workstations.
If disputes arise between injured workers and the company, remind workers who suffer on-the-job injuries that your client is the company, and not necessarily the worker. That will help you to clear misunderstandings, uphold your ethical obligations as in-house counsel, and shield yourself from potential malpractice claims.
- Reason 562 to Train Employees: You're Liable for Staff Screw-Ups (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Plaintiff Can Bring Slip and Fall Case Under Respondeat Superior (FindLaw's California Case Law Blog)
- 5 Strategies to Prevent Ex-Employee Lawsuits (FindLaw's In House)