A whopping 4,600,000 workplace injuries happen every year. That’s 12,600 injuries a day, 510 an hour, and 1 every seven seconds. But while most of these injuries range from mild to moderate (overexertion, contact with objects, slips, and falls), some cases are nothing short of devastating. These are the injuries that we will be talking about today.
Spinal cord injury
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most painful and catastrophic injuries that can happen to anyone. When a person is injured on their spine, they might exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Extreme pain in the back, neck, or head
- Weakness and loss of coordination
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Balance problems
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Odd position of neck or back
- Difficulty breathing after sustaining the injury
If a worker sustains significant trauma to their head or back, they must be taken to the emergency room right away. This is because symptoms of a spinal injury might not appear until some time later. Getting the injured individual to the hospital is critical to minimize the severity of complications and the injury’s extent.
In worst-case scenarios, a spinal cord injury can lead to permanent paralysis. Hence, the safest route is to assume that a spinal injury has occurred until proven otherwise, even if the injured worker does not exhibit any symptoms.
When a worker sustains a spinal injury on the job, they should contact a spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Loss of limb
Loss of limb usually occurs when a body part is caught in a piece of equipment or suffers extreme impact from a moving object, leading to amputation. Needless to say, this is a nightmare situation for the injured worker, who might not be able to continue working his current position (or might not even be able to stay on the job) after their limb has been amputated. And although modern prosthetics allow amputees to achieve a normal life, they will not continue doing things the way they used to.
The best ways to prevent accidental amputation in the workplace are:
- Properly training workers on how to handle dangerous equipment
- Stopping operation of equipment if a body part is placed near the hazardous area
- Putting a barrier around danger areas to prevent entry
- Providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Ensuring that all pieces of equipment are well-maintained to decrease the risk of malfunction
Traumatic brain injury
Severe impact or jolt to the head can lead to traumatic brain injury, ranging from a concussion to permanent brain damage. In the workplace, this type of injury can be caused by slip-and-fall accidents, objects falling on the head from a height, or impacts from a moving piece of equipment, among other kinds of accidents.
Workers who receive significant impact to the head must be taken to the hospital immediately. Like spinal cord injury, it is better to assume that an individual has sustained a traumatic brain injury until proven otherwise, even if the person is still conscious.
The best way to prevent traumatic brain injury in the workplace is to require workers to wear hard hats while in the workplace. Apart from that, employers must:
- Install safety railings on levels that are at a significant height
- Require wearing of safety shoes to prevent slip-and-fall accidents
- Ensure that all surfaces are clean and dry at all times
- Keep the workplace free from debris and clutter that can cause trips
- Remove obstructions from walkways and stairways
- Provide safety harnesses, cables, and other equipment for workers working at a height
- Place barriers around moving parts
- Implement adequate staff training programs (and refreshers as well)
- Maintain equipment regularly to prevent malfunctions and parts from falling off
- Display warning signs in all appropriate locations
Burns and toxic exposures
Workplace burns are often caused by explosions and fires, leading to blindness, scarring, infection, disfigurement, and more health conditions. On the other hand, toxic exposures occur when a worker comes in contact with hazardous chemicals, which can result in severe respiratory illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis, among others.
To prevent these types of severe injuries, here’s what employers must do:
- Provide complete personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers
- Educate employees on hazards in the workplace and safety measures
- Keep all dangerous materials secure and away from workers
- Lock all entrances to dangerous areas
- Ensure that the building is up to code
- Have an adequate number of fire extinguishers
These are some of the worst injuries in the workplace, especially in dangerous industries like construction and mining. To prevent these injuries from happening, workers and employers must work hand in hand to minimize workplace hazards and follow safety protocols at all times.