Workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses cost the nation billions of dollars a year and are a significant liability issue for businesses. Both employers and employees should be aware of the principle workplace accidents that lead to injury and how to avoid all associated occupational hazards. Foresight on this issue will allow companies to invest in comprehensive business insurance plans, and will provide employees with valuable education concerning their own safety.

Workplace violence—The instances we’ve seen of workplace violence are often attributed to someone ‘going postal,’ which is slang for an employee who is overwhelmed by irritability, anger, mood swings, or withdrawal, and as a result engages in a violent act against a co-worker supervisor or boss. Employers must encourage an open atmosphere in which employees can report symptoms of this kind of behavior before it erupts.

Repetitive motion injury—This is caused by employees performing the same movements over and over again, such as typing or assuming awkward positions while working. This can be avoided by encouraging proper posture through ergonomic chairs and equipment, as well as job rotation, which allows employees to trade off duties.

Caught in or crushed by—This injury involves being caught in or crushed by a piece of machinery, equipment, tool, or object. The way to avoid this injury is stay clear of hazardous zones known as ‘pinch points.’ Employers must establish strict procedures for machine engagement.

Motor vehicle collisions—Operating motor vehicles on the job often leads to accidents. The risk is worsened by distracted drivers who may be text-messaging, talking on the phone, eating, or reading an email. Employers should encourage their employees to finish all distracting activities, which cause over half of all crashes, before driving.

Struck by—Workers can be injured by falling or moving objects. Minimize this by keeping work areas neatly arranged, restricting access to high-risk zones, and mandating the use of protective gear.

Strike against—This is when part of a workers’ body strikes an object harder than intended while avoiding a loss of balance or other mishap. Avoid this by not moving while distracted, refraining from silly antics or horseplay, and not placing excessive force on immobile objects.

Fall to lower level—A fall from one level to another often leads to a severe or fatal injury simply from the force of gravity. Employees should proceed down staircases with caution, only use ladders when there is a base of support, only use step-ladders on a balanced surface, and refrain from carrying two-handed loads while climbing.

Same level slip/trip—Examples of these are slipping or tripping due to slippery surfaces, bad shoe soles, excessive speed, or hazardous conditions. Employers and employers can minimize these accidents by promoting a clean, organized workplace.

Overexertion—Overexertion is caused by excessive pulling, lifting, pushing, carrying, or any other activity that causes extreme physical or psychological fatigue. The most common injury is back pain. Many overexertion injuries can be avoided by using proper lifting techniques and using human and mechanical lifting assistance.

Unsafe acts—This is a huge category that contains things like standing at the top of a ladder, running through the workplace, not wearing protective equipment, and the like. They are usually caused by complacence and poor training.

All of the injuries on this list can be avoided by implementing strict safety precautions and establishing workplace procedures. Employers should carefully select responsible employees, develop checklists and procedures based on recommendations by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and provide formal training and drills for their employees. If these steps are taken both injuries and liability for those injuries can be reduced.