Sprains, Strains, and Tears: The Most Common Workplace Injuries

most common workplace injuries

In the blink of an eye, workplace injuries can turn a typical Tuesday into a struggle for your financial future.

While you may not consider common workplace injuries such as sprains, strains, and tears severe, they can cause physical hardship and economic loss. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)[1], nearly 550,000 out of more than 2.2 million recorded occupational injuries in 2021-22 involved sprains, strains, and tears. All resulted in time away from work.

Days away from your job add up, especially if the injury lingers. The pain and suffering you experience may also affect your job performance even if you’re cleared to return to work, adding stress to an already unfortunate situation.

If you’re unsure how to move forward with a claim against your employer, USClaims may have options for workplace injury funding. Read on to learn more about the prevalence of sprains, strains, and tears in the workplace, how they fit into the broader picture of occupational injuries, and how to navigate your potential claim.

Sprains and Strains as Common Workplace Injuries

Sprains. Strains. Tears. Just what do these terms describe?[2]

  • Sprains and strains both involve overstretching or tearing, but they affect different parts of the body. Sprains refer to an injury to a ligament, which connects bones to other bones. Strains affect muscles or tendons, the latter of which attaches muscle to bone.
  • Tears can occur when ligaments, muscles, or tendons stretch beyond their range of motion.

You may experience acute or sudden onset sprain and strain injuries stemming from a single incident or trauma, causing immediate pain and symptoms. You might also sustain chronic injuries, which develop gradually over time from repetitive motions or overuse. These tend to interfere with your bodily function over long periods.

Recent workplace injury statistics reveal that incidents stemming from overexertion happen at a rate of 26.2 per 10,000 full-time workers and result in about 14 days of lost work per incident[3]. These were most commonly back injuries.

Workplace Injury Risk Factors

Risk factors — both job-related and individual — increase the likelihood of a worker suffering from an injury or disorder. Some of the most common workplace injuries share common risk factors. These include[4]:

  • Awkward posture
  • Excessive force
  • Excessive repetition
  • Environmental hazards
  • Exposure to harmful substances
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Exposure to electricity

That doesn’t mean only employers contribute to injury risks. Workers’ actions and habits can also up the odds of workplace injuries. Employee risk factors include:

  • Poor fitness
  • Poor hydration
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor overall health
  • Poor rest and recovery

Workplace Injury Statistics

Workplace injuries extend well beyond just sprains, strains, and tears. And unfortunately, workplace injury statistics currently trend toward more, not fewer, incidents. For example, preventable work-related deaths rose 5% in 2022[5].

  • Private employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2022. That’s a 7.5% increase from 2021.
  • In 2022, there were 2.3 injury cases per 100 full-time workers.
  • In 2021 and 2022, overexertion and bodily reaction injuries had the most cases (1 million) resulting in days away from work, days of restricted work activity, or a job transfer or restriction. Next was contact with objects and equipment at more than 780,000 cases, followed by slips, trips, and falls at more than 670,000.
  • Transportation and material moving occupations had more than 800,000 workplace injury or illness cases resulting in days away from work, days of restricted work activity, or a job transfer or restriction in 2021-22. The service industry was second with more than 700,000 cases.

Increased safety measures by employers and situational awareness by workers may help shift these numbers in the future, but in the present, many require help for injuries suffered while on the job. If you’ve incurred a workplace injury, discover cases that qualify for funding to determine if you should contact USClaims.

What Can You Do? Implementation of Controls

To mitigate your chances of adding to these workplace injury statistics, remember that prevention is always more effective than treatment. With that in mind, some proactive steps to take to improve workplace safety include:

First, identify any existing risk factors and implement safety protocols to counter them.
After doing this, look at the job again to see if you’ve introduced changes that inadvertently increase risks.
Then, implement solutions. Keep in mind that these controls — ergonomic or individual[6] — differ depending on the type of risks.

Ergonomic vs. Individual Controls

What’s the difference between ergonomic and individual controls?[6]

  • Ergonomic controls might include revamping workstations with desks, adjustable chairs, and monitor risers to reduce stress during the workday. Power tools on factory lines that require less force or grip strength may reduce wrist and forearm strain, while lifting aids, such as hoists and forklifts, may decrease risks for back and leg injuries.
  • Individual controls are the actions, behaviors, and best practices individual workers adopt in the name of workplace safety. Many organizations put in place safety education and training programs to improve individual controls. That may take the form of a primer on safety protocols during a new-hire orientation or a refresher training to reinforce safety best practices or introduce new protocols.

Additionally, employees can stay fit, learn the proper way to lift, and use personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly and in accordance with workplace safety protocols. Maintaining good posture also helps, as does reporting pain or discomfort from repetitive motion or overuse. That way, management can document your issues when they begin. However, just because you take these preventive measures doesn’t ensure you’ll avoid an injury.

How Pre-Settlement Funding From USClaims Can Help

It’s your employer’s responsibility to take specific steps and put controls into place to keep you safe. When that doesn’t occur, your best outcome relies on your company taking responsibility for your workplace injury.

If you’ve initiated a lawsuit surrounding injuries sustained on the job but worry about keeping up with expenses, USClaims can potentially help with pre-settlement funding that lets us purchase a portion of your proceeds from an anticipated court judgment or settlement. Apply now or call us today at 1-877-USCLAIMS to learn more.

The availability of pre-settlement funding varies by state. Contact USClaims for more information.


  1. “Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities (IIF).” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/iif/. 2023.
  2. “Default – Stanford Children’s Health.” Www.stanfordchildrens.org, www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=sprains-strains-breaks-whats-the-difference-1-1889.
  3. “Injury Facts: Top Work-Related Injury Causes.” National Safety Council, injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/work-overview/top-work-related-injury-causes/. n.d.
  4. “Prevent These Top 10 Most Common Workplace Injuries.” FFVA Mutual, http://www.ffvamutual.com/blog/prevent-these-top-10-most-common-workplace-injuries/. Accessed 21 May 2024.
  5. “Injury Facts: Work Safety Introduction.” National Safety Council, injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/work-overview/work-safety-introduction/. n.d.
  6. “How to Prevent Sprains and Strains in the Workplace.” Society for Human Resource Management, https://www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/risk-management/how-to-prevent-sprains-strains-workplace. 2014.
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