On the Job Back Injuries December 18, 2019
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 1 million workers experience work-related back injuries every year. In fact, back injuries comprise every 1 out of 5 injuries that occur in the workplace. This kind of injury can also be particularly difficult to prevent – but taking effective precautionary measures to protect workers is still possible.
Back Injury Risk Factors
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are a variety of factors that contribute directly to serious and debilitating – sometimes even permanent – back injuries. Some of the most common factors are:
- Repetitive lifting of items, equipment, or patients (e.g. in a hospital setting),
- Bending, reaching or twisting while lifting,
- Poor footing due to slippery floors or restricted posture,
- The use of poor body mechanics (as in how to lift, push, pull, and/or carry objects),
- Carrying items that are too heavy,
- Vibration, such as what truck and deliver drivers experience, and:
- Lifting objects forcefully
Certain workers face high risks for back injuries on the job. For example, employees with a history of congenital spinal defects, who work longer hours sitting or statically standing, are older (45-years-old and above), or who exercises less are more likely to sustain back injuries than others are.
How Employers can Limit Back Injuries at Work
Back injuries are the primary culprit behind tens of millions of workers’ compensation claims and countless days of missed work – and lots of preventable pain and suffering. Because every employer is legally obligated to provide and maintain a safe workplace, it is critical that they take precautionary measures by way of implementing engineering control methods to limit the number of back injuries that occur.
OSHA reports that some of the most effective engineering controls for guarding employees against back injuries include:
- Worker training and education: informing workers about the general principles of ergonomics (maximizing a worker’s capacity for both their health and productivity), recognizing hazards and identifying injuries, procedures for reporting hazards and injuries, etc.,
- Giving employees short breaks every hour and rotating employees to jobs utilizing completely different muscle groups,
- Providing footrests or rails and floor mats, as well as personal protective equipment, or PPE (e.g. back support belts), when necessary, and:
- Administrative controls, such as employing a “buddy system” for especially large or hard-to-lift objects (and having guidelines in place for how to approach objects over a certain weight)
Waiting until someone gets hurt before making critical health and safety changes is not good enough – employees should be taking the necessary steps to keep workers safe on the job every single day. One of the best ways for employers to do this is to conduct “walkarounds.” During a walkaround employers have the opportunity to discuss the difficulty of tasks directly with their employees, as well as observe the way in which individuals lift objects and how heavy or difficult to move the objects are.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Even when bosses do their best to prevent workers from being injured, accidents still happen. If you have questions or concerns about getting injured on the job, you may want to consider discussing your options with a workers’ compensation attorney. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides medical benefits and wage replacement to employees who were injured during the course of their employment as a result of their employer’s negligence. Workers’ compensation benefits can help provide peace of mind while an injured person is unable to work. To learn more about filing a workers’ compensation claim, please contact a representative at our firm directly.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you were injured at work, please contact our Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.