Common Types and Causes of Work Accidents

Work accidents are inevitable. Even if your workplace follows all the safety protocols, there is always a risk of mishaps. These accidents often lead to injuries from mild concussions to life-threatening ones.

Fortunately, injuries from work-related accidents are compensable in the US. Meaning, if you get hurt at work, you’ll most likely be able to claim benefits.

But before that, we first need to understand how likely you are to suffer from work accidents and the workplace hazards that often lead to them.

Work Accident Statistics in the US

Despite all the safety regulations, work accidents are still very common in the US.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 2.7 million non-fatal work injuries reported by private employers in 2020 alone. While more than 4,000 workers suffered from fatal work injuries that same year.

If we are to crunch the numbers, that amounts to more than 7,000 people suffering from work injuries every single day. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are other statistics to give you an overview of work accidents in the US for 2020:

  • 1,176,340 work injuries caused injured workers to miss at least one day of work.
  • At 43,500 reported cases, heavy and tractor-trailer drivers had one of the highest number of injuries involving days away from work.
  • On average, injured workers spend 12 days away from work following a work-related accident.
  • A worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury.
  • Up to 8.1% of all fatal work accidents involved women.
  • The construction industry accounted for 21.2% of total workplace deaths, the highest among all the industries

Common Types of Work Accidents in the US

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the most common work accidents in 2020:

1. Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments

Number of reported cases: 424,360

In 2019, exposure to harmful substances and environments was among the least common types of workplace accidents. But due to recent events, it climbed all the way up to the top almost overnight.

Exposure to harmful substance or environments include incidents like:

  • exposure to electricity
  • exposure to radiation and noise
  • exposure to extreme temperature
  • exposure to air and water pressure change
  • inhalation or ingestion of harmful substances
  • exposure to harmful substances through the skin, eyes, or any other exposed body part
  • exposure to a traumatic or stressful event

2. Overexertion and Bodily Reaction

Number of reported cases: 255,490

Overexertion happens when you push yourself beyond your physical limits. This data includes overexertion while:

  • lifting and lowering
  • pushing, pulling or turning
  • holding, carrying or wielding
  • throwing or catching
  • bending
  • crawling
  • reaching
  • twisting
  • climbing
  • stepping

This type of injury also happens due to repetitive motions as a result of:

  • microtasks (typing, texting, key entry, etc.)
  • repetitive use of tools or instruments
  • repetitive use of hands (without tools or instruments)

3. Falls, Slips, and Trips

Number of reported cases: 211,640

Falls, slips, and trips include injuries resulting from:

  • slipping on a substance
  • slipping on a vehicle
  • tripping on an uneven surface
  • tripping from stepping into a hole
  • tripping over an object
  • tripping over oneself
  • falling due to tripping
  • falling while climbing stairs, steps, or curbs
  • falling from collapsing structures or equipment
  • falling through a surface or existing opening

4. Contact with Object or Equipment

Number of reported cases: 196,140

This includes getting:

  • struck by objects or equipment
  • struck by a powered vehicle
  • caught between a rolling powered vehicle and an object
  • run over by a rolling powered vehicle
  • struck by a swinging or falling part of a powered vehicle
  • struck by a vehicle tipping over
  • struck by an object or equipment being pushed by the injured worker or another person
  • struck by an object or equipment rolling freely

5. Transportation Incidents

Number of reported cases: 41,010

As mentioned, incidents involving tractor and trailer drivers accounted for a significant part of the total workplace accidents in the US. This includes:

  • aircraft incidents
  • rail vehicle incidents
  • collisions between rail and roadway vehicles
  • animal transportation incidents
  • pedal cycle incidents
  • pedestrian vehicular incidents
  • water vehicle incidents
  • incidents involving motorized land vehicles

Top Causes of Workplace Accidents

According to OSHA, these are some of the most common causes of workplace accidents in the US:

  1. breach of safety protocols
  2. poor lighting
  3. improper storage and handling of hazardous materials
  4. lack of proper hazard warning
  5. unsafe ladders and scaffoldings
  6. inadequate respiratory or face and eye protection
  7. inadequate fall protection
  8. lack of employee safety training
  9. lack of personnel guarding the machines
  10. unsafe machinery
  11. safety violations for powered industrial trucks

What Are Your Rights If You Get Injured at Work?

As mentioned, injured workers have rights too. If you can prove that your injury is work-related, you might be able to claim workers compensation benefits.

Since workers compensation laws are implemented on a state level, the rules and regulations tend to vary. But in general, your workers compensation settlement will include medical benefits and lost wages compensation.

Medical Benefits

Workers comp laws in most states require employers or insurance companies to pay for all necessary medical expenses. With that, medical benefits typically include payments for:

  • emergency treatment
  • medications
  • medical supplies
  • orthopedic devices (if needed)
  • surgery (if necessary)

Lost Wages Compensation

To determine wage loss benefits, work-related injuries are classified into:

  • temporary partial disability
  • temporary total disability
  • permanent partial disability
  • permanent total disability

Each of these tiers has a corresponding percentage for wage loss benefits. They are typically paid twice a month until you reach maximum medical improvement or return to work, whichever comes first.

How to Claim Workers’ Compensation

If you’ve recently suffered a work-related injury, here’s how to file a workers compensation claim:

1. Report your injury

The first step to making a workers comp claim is to inform your employer about the accident and your injury. Most states have a time limit for reporting injuries. In Florida, you need to report your injury within 30 days after the accident. Otherwise, your claim can get denied.


After reporting your injury, your employer will in turn inform your insurance provider. They will evaluate your claim to see if it has enough merit or you have enough evidence to back it up. In some cases, they may ask for additional evidence or send a workers comp investigator after you.

2. Gather evidence to prove your claim.

To increase your chances of getting approved for benefits, you need to make sure you have enough evidence to back up your claim. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may need to gather:

  • medical reports
  • testimonies from witnesses
  • testimonies from people who know about your injury
  • your medical history
  • your employment or education records

3. Negotiate a settlement

Once your claim is approved, the next step is to negotiate a settlement amount with your employer and insurance provider. This is where most injured workers often get the short end of the stick.

You see, insurance companies don’t like paying benefits. So you can expect that they’ll pay you the least amount of compensation that they can legally get away with. Plus, they’ll most likely have their own legal team to make sure that’s exactly the case.

This is why you need to hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca. He has already helped thousands of injured workers in Florida get the benefits they rightfully deserve. He can help you get yours too. Call us now for a free consultation.

(Related: How Does An Impairment Rating Chart Work?)

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.

About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.