Common Accidents

Health and Safety – The Most Common Accidents in the Workplace

According to 2009 statistics from EUROSTAT (Statistics in Focus 63/2009) almost seven million workers (so approximately 3.2% of the workforce) in the EU had an accident at work during a one-year period. Approximately 10% of these accidents were a road traffic accident in the course of work.

Accidents at work are most common in the agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors. Among men, the highest risk is found in these three sectors, whereas the highest risk among women is found in other sectors such as health and social work, and hotels and restaurants. In terms of different types of occupations, skilled manual workers are most likely to have an accident at work. In addition to this, the likelihood of an accident at work is increased in shift work and atypical working hours.

Slips, trips and falls are the largest cause of accidents in all sectors from heavy manufacturing through to office work. In countries in the EU, they have been identified as the main causes of accidents that result in more than three days absence from work.


These are some of the most common accidents in the workplace:

  • Slipping and /or tripping obviously relates to falls on wet and slippery floors or tripping over an object lying on the floor. Employees need to pay attention to their environment and employers need to have safety guidelines to ensure spills are promptly cleaned and no dangerous debris remains.


  • Over-exertion injuries include injuries related to pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying and throwing activities at work. These types of injuries are consistently high on the list and can be the most expensive overall.


  • Falling from a height, which typically happens from an elevated area such as roofs, ladders and stairways. They can be caused by slip and fall accidents or due to faulty equipment. These types of accidents can be reduced by the use of proper personal protection gear, training and employee diligence.


  • Reaction injuries, which can be caused by slipping and tripping without falling: these incidents can cause muscle injuries, body trauma, and various other medical issues. These can be hard to prevent, but it is important for employees to pay attention to their environment.


  • Falling objects that fall from shelves or are dropped by another person can cause very serious injuries, with head injuries a common result. Keeping the work environment free from hazards is key to preventing these types of injuries. Proper personal protection gear usage, such as a hard hat, can be instrumental in keeping employees safe.


  • Injuries when someone accidentally walks or runs into an object, such as walls, doors, cabinets, glass windows, or tables and/or chairs, usually resulting in head, knee, neck and foot injuries. Keeping the work environment free from as many hazards as possible is crucial to preventing these types of injuries.


  • Injuries due to becoming entangled in machinery, which usually occurs in a factory that uses heavy equipment for manufacturing, among other examples. Personal protective equipment, in addition to paying careful attention, is necessary to avoid these incidents.


  • Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can be very harmful over the longer term. Usage of computers for example can strain muscles and tendons causing back pain or potentially create problems with vision. But employee training and the use of ergonomic equipment should help to reduce RSI to a minimum.


  • Vehicle accidents when driving for business purposes. Training and employer safe driving policies should be employed to reduce accidents.


  • Violent acts, due to arguments, as one example, can clearly lead to serious injuries. Workplace violence employee training and employee diligence in watching out for suspicious activities can help keep these incidents at bay.