7 of the Wackiest Workplace Injuries

The majority of workplace injuries are slips, trips or falls, but there are many unexpected injuries, such as getting hit by lightning or falling overboard.


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, according to Evotix, which provides health and safety solutions.

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. The International Labor Organization reports that, every year, 2.3 million men and women experience accidents while working.

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. Here is Evotix's list of seven downright peculiar workplace injuries:

1. Lighting Strikes Indoors

With the chances of being struck by lightning being about one in 300,000, the odds are marginal to begin with. Yet Robert Jones, a PE teacher at Walker Elementary school in Northport, Alabama, was struck when he was sitting inside. (He made it out alive.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one-third of lightning-strike injuries actually occur indoors. For the best protection during a storm, make sure you have some distance from big windows!

2. Saving the French Fries

When a small bag of French fries slipped from a manager's hands at a McDonald's, 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.

Would you have saved the fries?

3. Bowling Ball Target Practice

What co-workers get up to in the workplace can 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. Before doing so, he was warned by his foreman to "knock it off," or "stop."

He continued -- and pieces of the bowling ball shattered, causing him to lose an eye. The court decided against his claim due to positive-work environment violations.

See also: Bring Certainty to Remote Injury Claims

4. Falling Overboard

Have you ever fallen into freezing cold water? Well, an unlucky news reporter did -- on national television. As the news anchor went to interview someone on a boat, she slipped backward and fell into the water. She was fine, but the segment was broadcast across the Netherlands before going viral on social media. (You can see the clip here.)

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. When one employee was seeking help from a co-worker to retrieve his pack of crisps, the worker fractured his own hip.

If there's one lesson here, it's that, when it comes to man vs. vending machine, the vending machine usually wins. If you're having trouble retrieving your items, contact the maintenance team.

6. Video Camera Superglued to a Face

In retail stores, there are countless accidents at work. One of our favorites concerns a worker at an electrical store in the U.K. who 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 lens back on. Testing the camera, he realized it was superglued to his eye.

At the hospital, he was told to stop filming. He had to admit that he wasn't recording; he just had the camera glued to his eye. 

7. Feeding a Bear Under the Influence

If feeding bears is your job, 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 on his backside.

The man admitted he smoked a joint before feeding 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.

Matthew Elson

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Matthew Elson

Matthew Elson is CEO at Evotix, which harnesses the latest technology to give people intuitive, human tools that address their most pressing EHS and wellbeing challenges. He acquired Evotix (formerly SHE Software) in October 2011. He combines strong commercial and leadership skills with strategic insight developed through a career of varied roles.

Elson began his career as an engineer before spending six years at McKinsey as a management consultant. Since then, he has built extensive executive experience in large and small businesses, including as CEO of ESR Technology, a manufacturer and engineering consultancy, and as managing director of Atkins management consulting division.


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