From walking and bending to lifting and reaching, all of these motions engage the muscles in the back and, if performed incorrectly, can result in an individual suffering painful injuries. Even the acts of standing and sitting put stress on the lower back region and, over time, can result in muscle weakness and strain.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 20 percent of all reported workplace injuries involve an injury to the upper or lower back. What's more, 25 percent of workers' compensation claims relate to back injuries suffered while on the job. Given these staggering statistics, it's important that both employers and employees take steps to minimize the risks of suffering back injuries at work.
Recognizing the hefty financial losses associated with lost work days and workers' compensation claims due to back injuries, employers would be wise to institute the following workplace controls and programs.
- Regular stretching and physical conditioning programs
- Training programs related to proper lifting techniques
- Strength tests to help determine appropriate job assignments for individual employees
- Reduced weight limits for and improved packaging of goods to aid in easier lifting
- Mechanical lift systems including conveyors and pneumatic lifts
Studies indicate that employing workplace programs and controls like the ones referenced above can reduce workers' compensation claims involving back injuries by more than 30 percent. While there certainly appear to be value in implementing programs to prevent work-related back injuries, at times, such injuries cannot be avoided.
Due to the fact that an individual must engage his or her back muscles for nearly every type of movement, a back injury can severely inhibit an individual's ability to move, work and enjoy life. From shooting pains to a dull throb, pain associated with a back injury can become debilitating. Workers who have suffered an injury to the upper or lower back are advised to immediately report an injury to an employer.
Workers' compensation is designed to compensate employees who suffer injuries on the job. Unfortunately, some employers and insurance providers will take action to deny or reduce the monetary payouts or duration of benefits. It's often a good idea, therefore, to contact an attorney who handles workers' compensation matters and who can provide strong legal advocacy on one's behalf.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "BACK INJURIES -- NATION'S #1 WORKPLACE SAFETY PROBLEM," Feb. 24, 2016