Watch Out! Five Common Causes of Workplace Accidents

We can all be careless sometimes. We don’t pay attention to where we’re going; we drop something without realizing it; and before you know it, an accident occurs. Accidents can happen anywhere, including the workplace. In 2012, nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers. 

Here are five common causes of workplace accidents:

1. Overexertion

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overexertion is the number-one cause of workplace injury. Accidents related to physical exertion, including lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, bending, crawling, reaching, and kneeling, cost businesses $15.1 billion in direct costs in 2012, as reported in the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s 2014 Workplace Safety Index. Your job may not require you to lift large or heavy objects, but even light loads, such as books, stacks of paper, or files, can cause injury to your back, neck, and shoulders if you don’t use proper techniques.

Training, safety equipment, and use of caution when performing physical tasks can prevent injuries related to overexertion.

2. Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the leading causes of disabling workplace injury, accounting for a combined $16.5 billion in workers’ compensation costs in the U.S. Slips, trips, and falls can occur when desk or file drawers are left open or when using a chair to reach objects, as opposed to a ladder. Loose electrical cords and wires also pose a hazard in the workplace. Be careful of spills, wet floors, debris, and ice when walking, and practice good housekeeping. 

Check out our blog post on ways to prevent slips and falls in the workplace to learn more.

3. Poor housekeeping

When clients or safety professionals walk through your worksite, housekeeping is an accurate indicator of attitudes toward quality, production, and safety. Poor housekeeping creates all kinds of hazards, and often results in workplace accidents, but a well-maintained area sets a standard for others to follow. Good housekeeping also ensures a safer work environment for all.

4. Taking shortcuts

Shortcuts may seem like an efficient way to complete daily tasks, but not at the risk of your safety and others around you. Shortcuts that reduce job safety only increase the chance of injury. Facility managers should reinforce proper procedures for all employee tasks on a regular basis and make sure employees are aware of the risks associated with taking shortcuts.

5. Distractions

If your day doesn’t start well at home, your worries can carry over to the workplace. Employees can drop their mental guard and pull their focus away from safe work procedures. Accidents often occur when employees are distracted, from walking into doors to tripping over clutter. Adhering to facility standards, including a quality housekeeping program, consistent grounds maintenance, and awareness of your surroundings, will prevent you from being distracted at work.


Many workplace accidents can be prevented through good housekeeping, use of caution, and focus on the task at hand. Don’t think an accident won’t ever happen to you, because that attitude can lead to injury. For more information on accident causes and how you can prevent them, contact GCA Services Group at