Workplace Overexertion Injuries
April 4, 2018
Overexertion injuries in the workplace often result in various strains and sprains, accounting for a large number of workers’ compensation claims and individuals who need time off from work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and National Safety Council (NSC) report that not only are these injuries costly, but they’re also largely preventable.
The NSC defines an overexertion injury as one that results from excessive physical effort. Although people experience different injuries as a result of overexerting themselves, some of the most common consequences are back strains and sprains. According to the NSC, the workplace situations that most commonly lead to overexertion injuries are:
- Wielding, and:
The main problem with overexertion injuries is that they can result in persistent or chronic pain. For workers employed in positions that require them to perform physical tasks, this can be an impossible obstacle to overcome. Some may never be able to return to a full time, unrestricted work schedule. In fact, overexertion injuries are one of the leading causes of days away from work and are the second-leading cause of nonfatal injuries behind workplace falls.
More than half of all overexertion injuries are of the back area and 52% of the time these injuries are the result of lifting objects in the workplace. And, it’s not difficult to get injured from physical overexertion: more than three-quarters of the time it results in a sprains or strains. People in certain occupations are at a higher risk for experiencing this kind of injury, like material handlers, paramedics and EMTs, orderlies, hospital aids, and laborers.
The NSC also reports that some of the other highest at-risk groups and scenarios for overexertion injuries are:
- Workers between the ages of 35 and 44-years-old;
- Male workers, and:
- Happen within the first 2-4 hours of the workday
One reason that overexertion injuries frequently occur within the first 2 to 4 hours of the workday is because people become more physically loose after moving around for a few hours, making muscle strain injuries less likely. This is why it’s so important to stretch and warm up – if even for five minutes – before doing any sort of workplace physical activity, especially when it’s laborious.
There are other steps that workers can take to prevent getting injured from overexerting themselves. Some helpful tips include:
- Never lift an object with arms extended;
- Lift with the legs, not the back;
- Carry limited amounts of weight;
- Don’t twist or bend the back when lifting an object;
- If the load is too heavy, get assistance, and:
- Ensure solid footing
You can read more general information on overexertion injuries, as well as what steps to take to help prevent them by visiting the NSC’s website here: https://www.nsc.org/Membership%20Site%20Document%20Library/OverexertionPPT-Notes.pdf.
Employers should train all workers on how to safely lift objects, provide protective equipment and maintain adequate levels of supervision to ensure that the standards are being observed, therefore avoiding preventable injuries. It’s critical that workers speak out if a load is too heavy for them to carry alone or even with the provided assistance (although employers should also have the appropriate weight limits and lifting standards in place). If you are at work and experience any pain or discomfort while performing a task, you should report it immediately.
In 2016 nearly 380,000 workers suffered from overexertion injuries according to data from the BLS. If you’re someone who was injured from overexertion in the workplace and you need help finding out if you’re able to file a workers’ compensation claim, please contact a representative at our firm.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you have experienced a workplace overexertion injury, please contact our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.