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What is occupational injury?

An occupational injury is bodily damage that is the direct result of working conditions or caused by the work done. The most common organs affected by occupational injury include the head, skin, skeleton, eyes, spine and hands. Usually, an occupational injury is caused by poor ergonomics, manual handling of heavy loads, the misuse or failure of equipment, or inadequate safety training about long hair, jewellery and clothing that can become entangled in machinery. Exposure to general hazards like, explosive materials, flammable gasses, height, heat, fire, electricity, hot or high pressure gasses and liquids, or working one near or under water or weak or heavy structures for example, are also possible causes of occupational injury. However, it is important to acknowledge that even with the most thorough safety precautions and training, accidents do happen.

What are the most common kinds of occupational injury?

While there are multiple forms of occupational injury, the following are some of the most common that occur.

  1. General soreness or pain

Overall body pain is one of the most commonly reported injuries that happen in the workplace. Many who complain of this, need to take time off from work to recover. Unsurprisingly, it is usually people who work in jobs that require high intensity labour, that complain of general soreness and pain as a result of their job.

  1. Sprains, strains, or tears.

These ailments account for nearly half of all reported occupational injury. While sprains, strains or tears to the back require the most time off work to recover, they are also the injuries that have statistically reduced the most over the last few years.

  1. Musculoskeletal disorders

Most complaints of musculoskeletal disorders involve the back, however, carpel tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff disorders are also common. Over time these ailments have increased, especially amongst those working as nurses and attendants.

  1. Cuts, lacerations, or punctures

Generally, cuts, lacerations or punctures involve work-related equipment, most commonly affecting the worker’s fingers. Punctures most commonly affect those working in refuse and recycling industries.

  1. Back pain

Back pain is one of the most commonly reported work place injuries reported, with workers from multiple industries taking up to two weeks to recover from it.

  1. Heat burns or scalds

Those working in food service or preparation are the most commonly affected by heat burns or scalds. However, many other industries also face workers taking time of for heat burns or scalds.

  1. Fractures

Those working in mining, hunting or construction are the most at risk group for occupational injury related fractures. Workers may need to take a month or more off from work to recover from fractures.

  1. Over exertion

A large percentage of occupational injury occurs as a result of over exertion. Many of the above listed injuries occur as a direct result of overexertion, for example, straining to carry something heavy.

Possible causes of occupational injury?

Much of the injuries that occur as a result of the individual’s job, happen due to repetitive work movements, heavy lifting, work with hazardous substances, or work with arms above shoulder height, amongst other causes.

Occupational injury can be prevented by anticipation of ailments by risk assessment, control banding, safety training, and personal protective equipment.

Workplace trauma counselling is offered by psychologist Louw Alberts. If you have a company that has suffered workplace trauma, or accidents in the workplace, or if you are an employee who has suffered a workplace injury contact Louw Alberts.

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