10 Most Common Workers’ Compensation Claims

By Insurance Advisor Team
10 Most Common Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workplace injuries can happen to any employee. At any given time, regardless of the industry, the best efforts to prevent them have helped but unfortunately, they will always occur. Accidents are a reality of working life even today. In 2022 alone, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industries.

Even industries that don’t involve heavy equipment and machinery use or height exposures are not immune from worker injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2022, on average, more than 100 employees died each week. Transportation and construction industries report the highest number of fatalities, with 1,069 and 1,053 reported deaths, respectively, in 2022.

Non-fatal injuries are far more common and can significantly impact an employee’s future ability to work. Particularly challenging cases involving non-exempt employees who are paid hourly and do not have disability insurance benefits push worker compensation benefits to the limit. Workers’ compensation is crucial in such cases, covering medical expenses, rehabilitation, and a percentage of lost wages.

Most Common Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation claims arise from various types of workplace injuries, affecting workers across different industries, from office environments to manual labor settings. Many of these injuries can happen in warehouses, construction sites, and even office spaces. Many types of burns and electrocutions, though less common, pose significant risks in environments involving hot surfaces, chemicals, and electrical equipment. Workplace violence and concussions also contribute to the spectrum of workers’ comp claims. These claims underscore the importance of comprehensive safety protocols and preventive measures in all occupational settings. Modern laws are catching up with these incidents, yet a 100% fool-proof method to stop injuries remains a utopian dream.

Workplace Strains

Workplace strains constitute the largest category of workers’ compensation claims. These account for 30.1% of the total workers’ comp claims. Though they may seem minor, strains can significantly impact a worker’s ability to earn income in the future. It also affects businesses too. These injuries, which include repetitive strains and muscle strains, can have long-term effects on a worker’s earning capacity. Repetitive strains and muscle strains leading to disability are among the most frequent types of workplace injuries, as noted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

While repetitive motions are common in professions such as warehouse work, restaurant kitchen duties, and other manual labor roles, office workers are not exempt, often suffering from repetitive strain injuries due to prolonged computer use. Employers can mitigate these injuries by teaching proper techniques for lifting and handling heavy objects, providing ergonomic equipment to reduce physical strain, and encouraging regular breaks for rest and stretching during shifts.

Being Struck by an Object

Being struck by an object has become the second most common cause of workplace injuries. As stated by the National Safety Council in 2024, 26% of workplace incidents include scenarios such as being struck by or against an object or equipment, being caught or compressed by equipment or objects, or getting stuck, caught, or crushed in a collapsing structure or material.

These injuries occur in nearly any occupation, commercial or industrial. In offices and warehouses, they most commonly happen when items fall off shelves or are dropped by other workers from higher levels. Retail and warehouse employees file the most workers’ compensation claims for being struck by objects. Construction workers come second in the list of the most struck by object claims. Even office workers and factory employees frequently file claims for injuries sustained from falling objects.

Sprains at Work

Sprains come next in this list of prevalent types of workplace injury. They account for 8.9% of all workers’ compensation claims, with 13,449 reported cases. These injuries are often caused by slipping, pushing, pulling, or lifting heavy objects. In these activities, the ligaments—tissues connecting bones to one another—are stretched or torn, leading to pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Sprains can happen in a variety of workplace settings and activities, such as in office environments, warehouses, construction sites, and healthcare settings.

The result of such sprains is two-fold: decreased ability to perform their job duties leads to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism. Employees will require medical treatment, physical therapy, and modified work duties, which can be costly for both the employee and the employer. In some cases, severe sprains can lead to long-term health issues or chronic pain, further impacting the employee’s quality of life and work performance.

Workplace Burns and Electrocution

Workplace burns and electrocution are significant hazards, accounting for 3.1% of all workers’ compensation claims, with a total of 4,661 reported cases. This is because the severity of these injuries can range from minor to life-threatening, often requiring extensive medical treatment and recovery time. Burn injuries in the workplace can result from several sources, such as hot surfaces and equipment, chemical burns, steam burns, radiation burns, electrocution, etc.

Employees working in electrical installations and repairs, industrial settings, and office environments are very susceptible. Burns and electrocution can have severe repercussions for employees, resulting in extensive medical treatment and longer recovery time. The emotional impact of psychological trauma and heavy financial burden is incalculable.

Concussions at Work

Concussions are a concern in the workplace. Despite accounting for just 0.6% of all workers’ compensation claims, with 882 reported cases, the severity of concussions has now been universally recognized due to its potential long-term effects on brain health. These injuries are caused by a blow to the head or a sudden jolt that disrupts normal brain function, leading to a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Concussions can occur in workplace environments and are often the result of falls or direct head impacts. Locations such as construction sites, industrial settings, office environments, and healthcare facilities where sudden movements take place make them unsafe for vulnerable professionals and workers.

Even worse, the symptoms and long-term effects are not estimable. Immediate symptoms like headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and temporary loss of consciousness may certainly be promptly diagnosed, but delayed symptoms such as memory problems, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep disturbances, and mood changes are difficult to assess, making the task of handling these workers’ compensation claims tougher. In severe cases, concussions can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurological condition often associated with repeated head injuries. CTE can result in cognitive decline, severe mood swings, and other serious mental health issues. Concussions can have a profound impact on an employee’s life and work, occupied with medical treatment, recovery time, work absence, and long-term health effects.


Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is a growing concern across many industries in the USA. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 375 fatalities resulting from workplace shootings in 2012 alone. In these fatalities, robbers and coworkers are counted as primary assailants. Workplace violence can manifest itself in various forms, including physical assaults, threats, and even homicide.

The primary causative factors contributing to workplace violence include robberies, coworker conflicts, client or customer attacks, and domestic violence spillover into professional spaces. High-risk job positions make it unsafe for professionals who are more susceptible to workplace violence due to the nature of their work, high physical activity, and exposure to potentially dangerous situations. Examples of such personnel include police and security officers, nursing aides and healthcare workers, janitors and cleaners, and truck drivers. Workplace violence can have a severe and lasting impact on employees. Physical injuries form a major part of the impact. Psychological trauma, decreased morale, and financial costs take their emotional toll. Workplace violence is a critical issue that requires vigilant prevention and response strategies.

Drug Overdoses in Workplace

Since 2012, unintentional drug overdoses at work have become an increasingly concerning issue. With approximately 300 fatalities occurring each year, it is certainly a less common occurrence than other workplace injuries. Yet, the rising trend since then underscores the critical need for addressing substance abuse within workplace environments.

Several factors contribute to the occurrence of drug overdoses in the workplace. An opioid epidemic results when there is a widespread availability and misuse of prescription opioids. These have significantly contributed to the increase in workplace drug overdoses. Substance abuse and addiction, illicit drug use, and lack of awareness and education contribute to rising drug overdose cases.

Drug overdoses in the workplace can have severe consequences for both employees and employers, especially on health and safety, workplace productivity, employer liability, and workplace morale. The rising trend of unintentional drug overdoses in the workplace highlights the urgent need for comprehensive mental health prevention and intervention strategies.

Toxic Exposure in the Workplace

Workers in various industries are routinely exposed to hazardous substances that pose significant health risks. Toxic exposure to such chemicals can lead to severe illnesses, chronic health conditions, and, in some cases, life-threatening diseases.

Common causes and examples of exposure to toxins occur in agriculture, manufacturing, and laboratories. Asbestos is another toxic material. Workers exposed to it predominantly participate in construction and shipbuilding & repair sectors. Radiation Exposure is another threat in certain industries requiring employees to work with radioactive materials, which can be hazardous without proper precautions. This is especially true for workers in Healthcare and Nuclear Industries. Industries such as mining, battery manufacturing, and welding expose workers to heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can cause severe health issues.

Toxic exposure can have a range of acute and chronic health effects. Acute effects include symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, skin rashes, and respiratory distress. These can occur shortly after exposure to toxic substances. Long-term exposure is less studied. It can lead to more severe health problems in the future, including cancer, neurological disorders, organ damage, and reproductive issues. Diseases like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, mesothelioma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are examples of serious conditions resulting from toxic exposure. There have been many notable cases, such as Monsanto’s Round Up herbicide causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Asbestosis litigation is another example of numerous lawsuits filed by workers exposed to asbestos, resulting in substantial settlements and stricter regulations on the use and removal of asbestos-containing materials. Today, many safety regulations are in place to tackle toxic exposure, yet the threat remains.

Workplace Crushing Hazards

Crushing injuries, while accounting for 0.9% of all workers’ compensation claims with a total of 1,406 reported cases, poses a significant risk in various industries, particularly those involving heavy machinery and equipment. These injuries can be devastating, often resulting in severe physical trauma, permanent disability, or even death.

Common causes and examples can be found scattered across many locations in manufacturing and industrial settings where heavy machinery, assembly lines, and forklift accidents are a recipe for disaster. A notable incident involved a young man in Wichita, Kansas, who was crushed by a forklift. Construction sites are also the kind of locations where building collapse and heavy equipment can cause fatal crushing injuries and even death. Warehousing and logistics where pallets and storage racks can collapse, resulting in workers being crushed by falling goods. This is true especially when loading and unloading operations are carried out. These kinds of crushing injuries can have profound and lasting impacts on employees, leading to physical trauma, adverse psychological effects and financial burdens. The result is often a permanent disability.

Workplace Lacerations

Lacerations, or cuts to the skin, are one of the most common workplace injuries, accounting for 11.8% of all workers’ compensation claims. With 17,919 reported cases, these injuries can range from minor cuts requiring simple first aid to severe wounds needing medical intervention and potentially leading to significant complications.

Lacerations frequently occur in various work environments, especially in industries that involve the use of sharp tools, machinery, or materials. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation found that most of these injuries include hands and fingers, given their extensive use in most types of labor. In manufacturing and construction, sharp tools and equipment used by workers in these industries include knives, saws, and other cutting tools. This increases the risk of lacerations. For instance, a factory worker might suffer a deep cut while operating a bandsaw, or a construction worker might get injured by a utility knife. In metal and glass handling operations, handling sharp metal or glass materials can lead to severe cuts. Even food service and culinary industries are not safe, with kitchen knives and food processing equipment designed to cut, chop, or slice food products. If safety protocols are not strictly followed, serious lacerations can occur. Warehousing and logistics activities where box cutters, packaging equipment, strapping, and banding tools increase the probability of lacerations. In healthcare & laboratories, many medical instruments and glassware make it essential for lab workers to follow safety protocols. Lacerations cause pain and discomfort, risk of Infection, etc., which lead to reduced productivity as more time is spent on medical treatment.


Workplace injuries are a significant concern across all industries. While fatalities often occur in high-risk sectors like transportation and construction, non-fatal injuries are widespread and can severely impact employees’ livelihoods. Workers’ compensation plays a vital role in supporting injured employees, covering medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost wages. Implementing robust safety measures and training can help reduce the incidence of these injuries and ensure a safer working environment for all.