Injuries in the workplace that result in compensation beyond related medical expenses are termed “compensable” claims. With compensable claims, the expenses paid may include wage replacement, disability payments, reimbursement for lost earning potential, death benefits, or other expenses associated with a workplace injury. Injuries that happen in the workplace are grouped into categories according to how the injury was sustained, and what parts of the body it affects. By compiling and analyzing data from workplace injuries, it is evident that there are seven categories of injuries that account for:
- 92% of all claims,
- 96% of lost work days,
- 95% of costs for compensable claims.
The seven categories of most common workplace injuries in the order of highest incident rate to lowest incident rate are (From most common to least common):
- 1. Musculoskeletal disorders of the upper body
- 2. Being struck by or against something
- 3. A fall at the same level
- 4. A fall from a higher elevation
- 5. Musculoskeletal disorders of the lower body
- 6. Motor vehicle injuries
- 7. Being caught in, between, or under something
MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS OF THE UPPER BODY
Musculoskeletal disorders of the upper body include disorders of the upper extremities, back, and neck that are not resulting from acute injury or trauma. These types of injuries are often chronic in nature, meaning they are a result of repeated motions, or positions that over time causes injury and disorder of the affected areas. This category of injuries can include conditions of muscles, nerves, and joints. A few examples of common injuries in this category are back strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome, and tendonitis. The most common industries for these types of injuries are building construction and patient care.
STRUCK BY OR AGAINST
This category includes worksite injuries that result from a person being struck by a moving object. This includes injuries from being hit by a vehicle while not actually riding in a vehicle. The most common industries for injuries involving being struck by something are building construction, logging, and psychiatric care hospitals.
FALLS FROM THE SAME LEVEL
This claim category includes injuries from falls, trips, and slips in which the person impacts with the floor or other surfaces at or above the initial standing level. This does not include falls from a higher elevation to a lower elevation. Again, construction is an industry with higher incidence of injuries in this category. Logging and general freight trucking are two other industries with high injury incidence in this category.
FALLS FROM ELEVATION
Claims in the category of falls from elevation are the result of injuries occurring when the impact of a fall occurs below the initial standing elevation. This could include falling from scaffolding, rooftops, or ladders to the ground, but not falls from the same elevation. Because of the common use of scaffolding, ladders, and hoists, building construction is again a leading industry for this category of injury, along with tree farming, logging, and freight trucking.
LOWER EXTREMITY MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS
Musculoskeletal disorders of the lower extremity developed by activities relating to employment occur with overexertion of the foot, knee, or leg. Bursitis, which is inflammation at points where muscles and tendons slide across bone, making movements painful and difficult, is one type of disorder that fits into this category. In the workplace, bursitis is often triggered by repetitive motions and/or excessive amounts of pressure. Plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of the foot, often as a result of overuse of the arch tendon of the foot, is another common disorder in this category. Tendonitis affecting the Achilles tendon or the patellar tendon is another example of a musculoskeletal disorder of the lower extremity often attained on the job.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISIONS
On the job injuries included in the category of motor vehicle collisions include only injuries to drivers and passengers of vehicles at the time that they are involved in a collision. Industries with high rates of this type of injury include freight trucking, delivery and courier services, logging, and ground transit industries.
CAUGHT IN, UNDER, OR BETWEEN
This category of claims represents injuries incurred when a body part is crushed, squeezed, or pinched between:
- a stationary and a moving object,
- parts of an object, or
- two moving objects.
The leading industries for this category of injuries are wood product manufacturing, logging, paper product manufacturing, and cattle ranching and farming.
Most employee injury claims will fit into one of these seven categories. Regardless of how the injury occurs, it is important for employees to carefully protect their rights in the wake of a worksite injury.