BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Occupational Health Injuries



Occupational health injuries are conditions that result primarily from an accident or exposure to physical, chemical or biological hazards in a work environment, such that the normal physiological or psychological functioning of workers are affected, and health is compromised or impaired. These conditions include any occupational injury for which a worker is entitled to benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Occupational injuries are acute and instantly visible personal incidents which differ from occupational diseases, in that diseases are contracted over a period of time due to exposures to risk factors arising from work activities. World Health Organization (WHO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers a disease to be work-related if it has multiple causes, where factors in the work environment play a role, together with other risk factors, in the development of such diseases. Given the period of time it elapses for some disease to be established, it is not always easy to prove that they occurred in the workplace, and subsequently claim associated benefits.

Occupational injury statistics are reported based on the nature or type of Injury, body part affected, source of the injury, type of accident resulting in the injury (for example, fall or burn), the industry in which worker was employed when the accident occurred (for example health or manufacturing), occupation of the injured or worker and personal characteristics of the injured worker such as gender and age. In order to be statistically reported and compensated, an injury must be accepted by a Workers Compensation Board (WCB) or commission as a time loss-loss injury. Some occupational injuries may not be accepted by WCB if they are considered minor-‘first aid only’ or occurred among some work groups that are not covered by WCB (such as the self-employed).

Some examples of occupational injuries include:

  • Physical and mechanical injuries which are the most common types of occupational injuries resulting from accidents. They include falls, sprains, lower back pains, bruises, cuts, lacerations, needle punctures, burns and musculoskeletal disorders
  • Skin disorders caused by exposure to chemicals, irritants, plants or other substances: contact dermatitis, eczema, rash, oil acne; friction blisters and skin inflammation.
  • Respiratory conditions associated with inhaling hazardous biological agents, chemicals, dust, gases, vapors or fumes: silicosis, asbestosis, acute congestion and pharyngitis.
  • Poisoning caused by the ingestion or absorption of abnormal concentrations of toxic substances such as lead, mercury, , arsenic, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, formaldehyde and insecticides.

Impacts or costs of occupational injuries are broad and may be direct or indirect. Some impacts may be potential while others may be , depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Direct impacts: These are measurable impacts or costs directly relating to the accident, the injured individual and ways to treat the injury. They are usually covered by the occupational health and safety plan. They include medical, hospitalization, and rehabilitation costs, administrative and legal costs and property damage- being damages caused to the company’s machines, equipment, tools, and other property in the course of the accident.
  • Indirect impacts: These are impacts that are not directly related to the worker, the injury or treatment but rather to the lost opportunities of the injured employee, his family, the employer, the co-workers, and the community at large. In contrast to direct costs, these costs do not involve out-of-pocket expenses, are not usually insured and are more difficult to measure. They include loss of education, career and social interactions, economic impacts of loss of work and worker, productivity losses involving stopping or slowing down of production due to property damage, loss of salary and benefits, limitations workers’ ability to perform household work, impact on the organization’s reputation and human impacts, such as pain, emotional and suffering.

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