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Annually and across the country: millions of workplace injuries

Yes, we all know that certain jobs and work-related activities are comparatively dangerous, carrying outsized risks.

Like working on a scaffold many hundreds of feet in the air. Like chopping down a tree that is taller than a football field. Like trying to catch fish when the surrounding sea is uncooperative and tossing your boat around like it's a toy.

And typing, with that seemingly staid and eminently safe office environment actually ranking right up there with more overtly dangerous work sites as a place where on-the-job injuries and accidents can occur.

"There are still a lot of very hazardous workplaces, but they are not always the places you would think," says one safety official.

What she is essentially saying is that, while high numbers of injuries obviously occur in industries like construction and mining, a dentist office or call center can also qualify as a dangerous work environment.

It turns out that musculoskeletal problems of all sorts -- sprains, strains, carpal tunnel syndrome and so forth --are prevalent in industries not routinely associated with high-risk work activities.

And, when those are added to the tab on what job-related illnesses and injuries cost America each year, the total is quite stunning to contemplate.

Here's a number to chew on: One California professor who has conducted relevant research estimates that companies and taxpayers cough up about $250 billion -- yes, that's billion -- annually to compensate for lost time, medical costs and other factors relating to work-related maladies.

Another number supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics serves to supplement and add a bit of context to that stark dollar amount: According to the bureau, there are about three million on-the-job illnesses and injuries every year in the United States, just in the private sector.

Take care out there. Danger lurks in the workplace, and in places one might not readily perceive.

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San Diego, CA 92101

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