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Which Occupations Pose the Highest Risk For Workplace Injuries?

Skilled Labor/Trade Workers are at Highest Risk

More than 2.8 million nonfatal work injuries occur each year, accounting for millions of dollars in medical bills and insurance claims. However, the workers that are most often affected by this fall into the skilled labor or trade worker category — employees in manufacturing and construction industries often see the highest rates of injuries, along with healthcare and transportation.

By looking at these four industries specifically, we can get a better understanding of which occupations might be considered “high risk” for their employees.

Manufacturing

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the manufacturing industry makes up about 15% of nonfatal illnesses and injuries from the workplace, despite only accounting for 11% of employees in the private sector. Among these, motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing make up some of the largest percentages of incidents that occur each year (6.3 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers). Other manufacturing sectors that account for the most injuries and illnesses include:

  • Conveyor and conveying equipment manufacturing (6.6 cases)
  • Wood product manufacturing (6.1 cases)
  • Spring and wire manufacturing (5.4 cases)
  • Cement and concrete product manufacturing (5.2 cases)

While most of these sectors are pretty broad, it is crucial to know that your risk of injury could increase depending on your specialization. For example, while wood product manufacturing has an average rate of 6.1 cases, prefabricated wood building manufacturing has one of the highest case rates of 13.8 per 100 FTE workers.

It is also worth noting that many of these rates have decreased over the last few years, with the exception of spring and wire product manufacturing that had a fairly significant jump in 2019, increasing by a rate of 1.5 cases.

Common Injury Hazards in Manufacturing

Since manufacturing makes up such a large percentage of the injuries and illnesses in the private sector, knowing which of these you are most susceptible to is critical. Here are the most common injury hazards that can occur in manufacturing jobs:

  • Slip/trip and falls
  • Repetitive stress injuries or strains
  • Machine-related injuries
  • Chemical exposure

Construction

Despite the liabilities that come with working in construction, this industry accounts for about half of the total recordable cases (TRC) as manufacturing, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Along with this, as a broad sector, construction records only 2.8 cases per 100 FTE workers.

However, this can also increase depending on your specialization.

  • Specialty trade contractors (3.1 cases)
  • Building finishing contractors (3.1 cases)
  • Residential building construction (3.0 cases)

In terms of which specialization accounts for the most construction cases, framing contractors see a disproportionate amount of injuries and illnesses with 7.0 cases per 100 FTE workers. As this industry makes up roughly 7% of the workforce, it isn’t too surprising that there would be fewer cases for construction overall, even though the perceived hazards may be greater.

Common Injury Types in Construction

Construction and manufacturing workers may face a lot of the same risks of injuries, as both jobs require the use of heavy machinery and could potentially come with burn exposure. However, there are a few ways in which they differ. Here are the common injury types for construction:

Healthcare

With their proximity to life-threatening illnesses each day, it is unsurprising that healthcare workers may face significant risks of injuries and illnesses, even with the appropriate safety equipment being used. This industry also accounts for 12% of the workforce, which means there is a larger group at risk of exposure. Considering this, the sectors in which employees are at the greatest risk include:

  • Ambulance services (7.9 cases)
  • Nursing care facilities or skilled nursing facilities (6.0 cases)
  • Hospitals (5.5 cases)

Specializations like psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals (7.2 cases), continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly (6.1 cases), and vocational rehabilitation services (4.8 cases) may also pose a greater risk for their employees.

Common Injury Types in Healthcare

Since healthcare jobs are a more client-facing service industry, the actual patients being served can contribute to the injuries that an employee may obtain. In fact, violence from patients or animals is the third most common cause of injuries among nurses, according to data from Unitek College. Here are four others on the list:

  • Overexertion
  • Slip/trip and falls
  • Objects or equipment mishaps or contact
  • Exposure to chemicals or illnesses

Transportation

Transportation workers make up about 9.1% of the workforce but often see some of the highest rates of workplace injuries compared to other occupations. However, the different sectors of this industry that see the highest TRC may be surprising, as they don’t account for a significant portion of overt crashes that occur on the roadways. Here are where most cases fall:

  • Air transportation (6.5 cases)
  • Urban transit systems (6.5 cases)
  • Transportation and warehousing overall (4.4 cases)

Similar to the other occupations previously mentioned, this industry also sees increases in cases with the more specialized your job is. For example, couriers and messengers have a rate of 8.1 cases per 100 FTE workers.

Common Injury Hazards in Transportation

Unsurprisingly, the majority of injuries that you may see for transportation workers have to do with transport accidents, but these employees also deal with these potential injuries:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Injuries from falling objects
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Since cargo jobs often fall into the transportation category, workers may also experience injuries from loading and unloading.

Filing Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Despite the U.S. Bureau of Statistics being able to track injury cases, experts at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) believe that many of the injuries still go unreported and have since made this a priority.

You have a right to health and safety at work and can seek compensation for injuries or illnesses resulting from your job. If you are seeking representation for your workers’ compensation case, contact J. Bradley Baker LLC by calling (803) 403-1485 today.