Back Injuries in the Workplace
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that more than one million workers suffer back injuries annually. According to the BLS, these injuries account for 1 of every 5 workplace injuries or illnesses. From these numbers, it is evident that preventing back injuries should be a priority in the workplace. And not only is it an employer’s duty to prevent workplace back injuries, employees also have a role to play. Fortunately, there are several ways of preventing workplace back injuries. Below, we discuss the common causes of back injuries in the workplace and share some tips to help you stay safe. Read on!
Causes of Back Injuries in the Workplace
Workplace back injuries can occur for various reasons. One common cause of back injuries in the workplace is force. When you apply a great deal of weight or strain to your back, you risk sustaining a back injury. For example, improperly lifting a heavy object can apply a great deal of weight or strain on your back and, thus, put you at risk of suffering a back injury.
Another common cause of back injuries in the workplace is repetition. Repetitive strain to your back can result in a back injury. For example, repetitively lifting or carrying objects, even light ones, or repetitively twisting and bending can cause a back injury.
Poor posture and sitting for extended periods can also cause back injuries. Unfortunately, this cause of back injuries is often overlooked.
Tips To Help You Prevent Workplace Back Injuries
The following are some tips to help you prevent back injuries in the workplace;
- Practice Proper Lifting Techniques
One of the best ways to stay safe in the workplace is to practice proper lifting techniques. If your work involves lifting objects, the following are some tips from OSHA that can help you prevent back injuries while lifting;
- First, evaluate the task for safety. How much can you safely lift? Does the load exceed it? Is the object too large or awkward to lift and carry safely? Can you get a good grip?
- Ensure the carrying path is clear
- Before lifting, stretch and warm up your muscles
- While lifting, do the following;
o Stand as close to the object as possible
o Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, ensuring you evenly distribute your weight
o Bend with your legs, not your back
o Hold the object as close to your body as possible
o Do not twist your torso while lifting
- Maintain a Good Posture
For example, do not slouch at your desk. If you use a computer, ensure your monitor is at a height and distance where you can comfortably see the entire screen without leaning forward, backward, or twisting uncomfortably. Additionally, avoid long periods of inactivity by moving around often.
- Modify Repetitive Tasks
If you can, modify repetitive tasks to avoid straining your back. For instance, if you lift objects repetitively, you can use a lift-assist tool.
- Stretch Regularly
Stretching can help relieve muscle tightness and imbalance.
- Stay Healthy
Your overall health can impact all body parts, so stay healthy. Drink enough water, stay active, and get enough rest.
Legal Help Is Available
No matter how careful you are, a back injury can happen in the workplace. When that happens, you should know you have legal rights. You can file a workers’ compensation claim and recover compensation from your employer. Our skilled Vermont workers’ compensation attorney at Sluka Law PLC can help you with your workers’ compensation claim.