Workers injured by picking up a bag of french fries, hitting a bowling ball with a sledgehammer, and getting a snack out of a vending machine are just three of the wackiest workplace injuries revealed in recent research.
Researchers from Evotix, who provide health and safety solutions, conducted research to reveal the top seven strangest and wackiest workplace accidents.
While most of us think of the workplace as a hub to network, host meetings, and build our careers, there are hundreds of thousands of accidents – many of them serious – in workplaces every year.
In 2021, 441,000 workers in the UK sustained a non-fatal injury according to the Labour Force Survey published in the Health and Safety Executive.
The majority of workplace injuries are slips, trips or falls, handling, lifting or carrying items, or being struck by moving objects, but there are many unexpected injuries such as getting hit by lightning or falling overboard.
Matthew Elson, CEO of Evotix who harness the latest technology to give people intuitive, human tools that address their most pressing EHS and wellbeing challenges, comments: “Over the years, the most common work-related injuries and fatality rates have decreased thanks to an increase in workplace health and safety measures. But even now, in the 21st century, over 5,000 people die in workplaces in Europe and North America every year. Behind every statistic is a name and a family. This is not OK.
“It’s important to have proper measures in place to protect the well-being of workers and ensure you’re providing a safe and happy work environment – all while minimising the chances of any usual and unexpected workplace accidents.
“Workplace accidents can be scary, even deadly, but they can also just be plain strange.”
Here is Evotix’s list of seven wacky and just downright peculiar workplace injuries.
1. Lighting Strikes Indoors
Most of us are no stranger to hearing of common workplace injuries, like slips, trips, falls, and overexertion, but have you ever heard of someone being struck by lighting indoors?
With the chances of being struck by lightning being about one in 300,000, the odds are marginal to begin with. So, when Robert Jones, a PE teacher at Walker Elementary school in Northport Alabama, was struck when he was sitting inside, this was an incredibly unusual occurrence.
Fortunately, this teacher made it out alive, but it is worth noting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of lightning-strike injuries actually occur indoors. For the best protection during a storm, make sure you have some distance away from big windows!
2. Saving the French Fries
While good customer service and delicious food are two of the main pillars at McDonald’s, one employee took this a step further. When a small bag of French fries slipped from a manager’s hands, she impulsively bent over quickly to catch the bag before it hit the floor. In doing so, she hurt her neck and filed a claim against the fast-food giant.
Despite this seeming like an accident unrelated to any breach of safety procedures, she was awarded the claim because of the nature of the incident, and because she had to quickly serve customers who were waiting in the drive-thru line.
So, if it was you, would you have saved the fries?
3. Bowling Ball Target Practice
What co-workers get up to in the workplace can often be bizarre. This is a cautionary tale of what could happen when a sledgehammer and a bowling ball meet on a construction site.
Some workers attempted to kill time while waiting for a delivery of a truckload of asphalt. A worker was challenged to see if he could break apart a bowling ball found in the parking lot with a sledgehammer, but before doing so, he was warned by his foreman to “knock it off, or stop.”
He decided to continue and it resulted in pieces of the bowling ball shattered causing him to lose his eye. The court decided against his claim due to positive-work environment violations.
4. Falling Overboard
Have you ever fallen into freezing cold water? Well, unfortunately for an unlucky news reporter, she did. Worst of all, it was on national television. As the news anchor went to interview someone on a boat, she slipped backwards and fell into the water.
For the better, she was completely fine, but the segment was broadcasted across the Netherlands, before going viral on social media. If you’re interested in checking out the clip for yourself, you can see it here.
While this clip provides some comical relief, it’s noteworthy that drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, so it’s important to have proper procedures and safety measures in place.
5. The Vending Machine
We’ve all experienced the frustration of having a snack stuck in the vending machine after slotting our coins into it. But when one employee was seeking help from a co-worker to retrieve his pack of crisps, the worker ended up fracturing his own hip.
If there’s one lesson here, when it comes to man vs. vending machine, the vending machine usually wins. If you’re having trouble retrieving your items, it’s best to contact the maintenance team.
6. Video camera superglued to a face
In retail stores, there are countless hilarious stories of accidents at work. One of our favourites is when a worker at an electrical store in the UK managed to superglue a video camera to his eye.
Some children came into the store and broke a video camera, so the employee was instructed to superglue the camera lens back on. When checking his handy work, and testing the camera, he then realised the video camera was superglued to his eye.
On his way to the emergency room, he was even stopped and told to stop filming, he had to embarrassingly admit that he wasn’t recording, he was there as he’d glued the camera to his eye.
7. Feeding a bear under the influence
If feeding bears is your job, then it’s probably not a good idea to get high before work. An American working in a bear enclosure did just that and ended up getting bit by a bear in his backside.
The man admitted he smoked a joint before deciding to feed the animals at Great Bear Adventures, a privately run park where black bears and grizzlies roam outdoors. While the man was in the bear enclosure, a grizzly named Red attacked and severely injured him.
The court agreed that his decision to smoke weed was mind-boggling and stupid, but also awarded him compensation to cover his medical expenses.