Generally speaking, a workplace injury is defined as an injury arising out of employment and occurring during employment. Basically, if you’re being paid to do something for your employer and you get hurt or sick while doing so, your illness or injury is considered a workplace injury.1

There are exceptions to this rule, of course. If, for example, you’re committing a crime or horseplaying around on company property, that won’t count as a workplace injury.2 But we’re here to talk about risks that professionals face even when they’re being careful.

For the most part, skilled workers have years of training and experience under their belt. Still, some workplaces are more hazardous than others, and professionals must be aware of the risks they face and how to avoid injury on the job.

What are the riskiest jobs for workplace injury?

First off, you should know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division within the Department of Labor, enforces regulations as well as provides training and educational resources to ensure that workers have safe working conditions.3

For example, OSHA found that construction workers are among the workers facing the most serious perils.4 According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction workers had the fifth-highest incident rates in 2019.5

Of course, it’s not just construction workers who face hazardous workplaces. Other worker categories in the top 10 incidents of workplace injuries were:

  • Nursing assistants
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers
  • Laborers who move materials by hand to and from storage or production areas (such as fulfillment center workers)
  • Light truck drivers
  • Maintenance and repair workers
  • Stockers and order fillers
  • Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners
  • Registered nurses
  • Retail salespersons

What are the top occupational injuries?

For employers overseeing workers in any industry, it’s critical to understand what hazards could put your employees at risk and work to prevent injuries and deaths. Among the top occupational injuries and risk exposures are:6

  • Overexertion or bodily reactions: Workers can overdo it when lifting something heavy on the job.
  • Falls, slips and trips: Workers can accidentally fall off a ladder, a roof or scaffolding or some other structure and become injured.
  • Contact with objects or equipment: Workers could be hit by a piece of equipment or struck by an oncoming vehicle while working on a job site.
  • Transportation incidents: Workers can get into bad car accidents while transporting goods or driving for work-related purposes.7
  • Violence and other injuries by people or animals: Sometimes, employees who work with the public must contend with violent customers, particularly if they serve alcohol or handle financial transactions.8
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: If staffers are working with chemicals, they have a risk of breathing in harmful substances or damaging their skin.9

How do you prevent workplace injuries?

Preventing occupational injuries isn’t just good for workers’ health; it also is financially beneficial to society overall. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), occupational injuries cost $171 billion in 2019. Worker fatalities typically cost more than $1.2 million per death, and each medically consulted injury costs about $42,000.10

Every industry has its own risks. According to the Insurance Information Institute, here are some general rules to prevent common workplace injuries and protect your employees and your business:11

  • Listen to management and employees: Your managers understand where the workplace injury risks occur the most. Encourage regular dialogue between supervisors and employees, specifically to review best safety practices, and assign a rotating employee safety lead who is responsible for bringing any safety concerns to your attention.
  • Examine how your workplace is running: To understand where workplace injury risks are, analyze how your business runs across the board. Create safety protocols and make sure that your staffers are implementing, upholding and enhancing any necessary workplace safety programs.
  • Mitigate hazards: Once you know where the safety risks are in your workplace, address them right away. Fix any broken equipment or implement new safety procedures necessary to protect your staff.
  • Train your workers: Make sure your employees are informed about how to spot and address safety hazards. Train your employees on first aid procedures in case another staffer suffers an accident.
  • Stay focused on safety: Keeping employees safe is an ongoing responsibility. Continue to examine and improve your workplace safety program, amending safety protocols as needed so no repeat injuries occur.

Why do you need workers’ compensation for a workplace injury?

Depending on where you operate your business in the United States and how many employees you have, you’ll most likely be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

But whether you’re required to do so or not, it’s a good policy to have, because it covers:

  • Immediate healthcare costs: If an employee gets injured or sick, workers’ compensation insurance may cover medical care for those injuries or illnesses such as doctor or hospital visits and necessary surgeries.
  • Long-term healthcare costs: If the injury or illness requires long-term medical care, workers’ compensation insurance can cover those health care expenses, including physical therapy or medicine.
  • Lost income: If your injured employee cannot work for an extended period of time due to a work-related injury, workers’ compensation insurance covers a portion of their missed wages.
  • Permanent injury or death: Sometimes, workplace injuries result in an employee dying or being permanently injured. If that’s the case, workers’ comp insurance may cover the ongoing disability benefits or the funeral costs and death benefits for the staffers’ beneficiaries.

(Don’t) break a leg

The time to get a worker’s compensation insurance policy is before one of your employees injures themselves on the job. As you weigh which policy to choose, here’s what you need to remember about common workplace injuries:

  • From construction workers to registered nurses, workers across a range of industries are vulnerable to workplace injuries.
  • Depending on your industry, your employees can be exposed to a variety of occupational hazards, including transportation incidents, falls or exposures to toxic chemicals.
  • It’s important for business owners to train workers on safety procedures and continuously improve upon their occupational safety programs.
  • Businesses in most states are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, with some exceptions depending on how many employees they have and what industry they work in.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance is important to have in order to cover lost wages, health care expenses and even funeral expenses associated with workplace injuries and deaths.

Accidents happen, but workers’ compensation insurance can help you pick up the pieces. With Thimble, you can get the right workers’ compensation insurance for your business, hassle-free.


  1. NOLO. Workers’ Compensation: Is Your Injury or Illness Work Related? 
  2. NOLO. Workers’ Compensation: Is Your Injury or Illness Work Related? 
  3. OSHA. About OSHA. 
  4. OSHA. OSHA Quick Card. 
  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employer-reported workplace injuries and illnesses – 2019 
  6. National Safety Counci (NSC)l. Top Work-Related Injury Causes. 
  7. OSHA. Trucking Industry. 
  8. OSHA. Workplace Violence. 
  9. OSHA. Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances. 
  10. NSC. Work Injury Costs. 
  11. Insurance Information Institute. Steps to reduce workplace injuries.