What Is an Occupational Injury?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2018
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An occupational injury is quite simply any injury that occurs as a result of working. This term usually does not include occupational diseases, which are chronic and often much harder to diagnose. Typically, an occupational injury occurs in a single moment, whereas a disease occurs over a longer period time. Injuries can occur to many different body parts and may vary in severity, but in many areas where workers rights are respected all cases in which an employee is injured must be solved by the employer in some way. Usually, compensation for an occupational injury consists of paying for all treatment related to the injury as well as paying for time off, although some areas offer less.

Often, body parts that suffer occupational injuries are directly related to the activities performed on the job. In some cases, freak accidents may occur that cause other types of bodily harm to employees, but much more frequently injuries are a result of carelessness or the risks of a job. Safety standards designed to prevent workers from suffering bodily harm are not always obeyed, but even when safety guidelines are followed perfectly, people still sometimes get hurt. Given that many companies are obligated to pay for injuries that happen to employees on the job, companies typically invest significantly in worker safety.


Some of the most common occupational injuries involve the hands, skin, and spine. People often carelessly cut themselves performing what appear to be simple tasks, or they may hurt their hands in other ways. Skin can be burnt, cut, and otherwise injured anywhere on the body in any number of professions. When a worker experiences an occupational injury having to do with the spine, the problem is typically the result of lifting too much weight or lifting improperly, although falls can also affect the spine. Broken bones and other relatively minor injuries are also common in some professions.

Certain hazardous professions are known to be more susceptible to a high rate of occupational injury than others. A person who does deep sea welding or fire fighting, for example, is at a much higher risk of experiencing a severe occupational injury when compared to a person who works at a desk or in a grocery store. People in lower-risk professions, however, often follow safety standards much more laxly and may become injured in minor ways more frequently.

In many countries, there are national regulatory agencies that work to make certain that all workers are safe. This may entail checking safety procedures, evaluating compliance with safety training, and looking at why past injuries have occurred. Insurance for compensating workers can be costly, particularly when a workplace has many accidents, so businesses often reward workers with incentives for going without injury.



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