One of your co-workers was seriously hurt on the job. The accident caused production to slam to a halt, it was chaotic until emergency services arrived, and you haven’t seen your co-worker since. He’s in the hospital, recovering from serious injuries, and workplace rumors say he may never be able to return to his job.

It was a wake-up call. You never took workplace dangers all that seriously before, but now you’re wondering how accidents happen so that you can avoid the same fate. Below are five key reasons.

  1. Falls.

Falls can be dramatic, such as a fall off of a three-story scaffold while working on a construction project, but even minor slips and trips can lead to significant injuries. You could slip on a wet tile floor while walking down the hallway in an office building, fall awkwardly, and break your arm trying to catch yourself.

  1. Overexertion.

Dedication to the job is admirable and working hard may earn you a slap on the back from your boss, but watch out when a job is too hard. Workers often overexert themselves when trying to lift heavy items or work too quickly. If you’re thinking it’s not a huge problem, reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics say nothing causes more on-the-job injuries.

  1. Distractions.

Think distracted driving is dangerous? Try working around a distracted co-worker who is running heavy machinery. Distractions don’t always come from cellphones, either. Potential distractions include other workers, thoughts about the job or the day’s schedule, instructions from a supervisor, and much more.

  1. Poorly maintained workplaces.

Cleaning up takes time and limits production, but failing to do it can cause accidents. On a construction site, for example, every scrap board or forgotten tool that gets left out on the floor is a potential trip hazard. While some amount of mess is unavoidable in specific industries, workers and employers should strive to have a clean, safe workplace at all times.

  1. Cutting corners.

The stress on production in the American workplace may tempt workers to take shortcuts and cut corners. For instance, a worker may know that he or she needs to wear fall protection gear while working on a 20-foot ladder, but the worker may just have to run up the ladder for a few minutes and may not want to take the time to get the gear on and set it up. No one expects to fall, and taking shortcuts with safety gear can make the results far more dire than they needed to be.

As you can see, employers have quite an obligation to make sure that workers are safe on the job. For instance, an employer who pressures employees to take shortcuts or not to clean up and make sure the workplace is safe could put workers’ very lives on the line. If you are injured in an accident, just like your co-worker was, be sure you know all of the legal options you have.