Overexertion and Bodily Reaction Injuries: Leading Cause of Nonfatal Work Injuries January 25, 2021
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), overexertion and bodily reaction injuries are the leading nonfatal injury events to cause days away from work. In 2019, more than 275,500 workers were injured, representing 31% of the total nonfatal injuries that occurred that calendar year. Overexertion and bodily reaction injuries can cause a variety of physical complications, with one of the most common ones being musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs.
Musculoskeletal disorders are disorders or injuries that affect the nerves, tendons, joints, spinal discs, muscles, and cartilage. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are often the direct result of a person’s work environment and the nature of their job. Bodily reaction and overexertion injuries that result in MSDs and other musculoskeletal injuries are most commonly observed in service industry employees, transportation, trade, and utilities workers, warehouse workers, education and health service providers, and retail trade workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that some of the most common types of workplace MSDs are carpal tunnel syndrome, hernias, muscular sprains, strains, and tears, tendonitis, fractures, and generalized soreness and pain. The majority of these injuries are back, shoulder, elbow, and knee injuries, but they can also affect other parts of the body.
MSDs: Risk Factors and Symptoms
Depending on the job, employees have to perform all different kinds of tasks. Workers who have to direct excessive physical effort at outside sources (such as lifting or moving heavy materials), who perform repetitive motions that impose stress or strain on a certain part of the body (e.g. typing), or who have a single or prolonged instance of free bodily motion (like crouching down or reaching for an object) are especially vulnerable to overexertion and bodily reaction injuries. These injury events cause employees to miss an average of eight days of work. According to the NSC, the following worker activities are most frequently linked to overexertion and bodily reaction injuries:
- Pulling and pushing
- Holding, reaching, or carrying
- Throwing, twisting or bending
- Kneeling and climbing
- Typing, texting, and using a mouse
- Repetitive use of tools like screwdrivers, knives, or medical instruments
When a worker is injured on the job and develops a musculoskeletal disorder, he or she may experience symptoms like back pain, stiff joints, numbness in the finger(s), difficulty moving the finger(s), muscle twitching, numbness in the thighs, a burning sensation in the muscles, and aching, pain, or stiffness throughout the entire body. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms from a work-related injury, you should file a workplace injury report and seek medical advice from a trusted healthcare professional.
Ways to Prevent Overexertion, Bodily Reaction, and Musculoskeletal Injuries
Every individual has the right to work in a safe and healthful workplace. Since most workplace musculoskeletal disorders and injuries are preventable, employers are responsible for maintaining comprehensive health and safety programs to address known risk factors and hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency that creates industry-specific standards that employers must abide by to protect workers, recommends that employers implement ergonomic programs to reduce musculoskeletal injury event rates.
Ergonomics is the science of designing and fitting a workplace to the user’s (or worker’s) needs. Most simply, ergonomics refers to tapering a job to a person. These programs aim to reduce physical injuries by altering workspace layouts and improving on product designs to better suit workers. Some of the most helpful ergonomic control methods that employers should utilize include:
- Put equipment in easy-to-reach places for workers
- Alternate tasks and give workers frequent, short breaks to rest
- Reduce the size and weight of items that workers have to lift
- Adjust the height of working surfaces
- Supply workers with ergonomic stools or chairs
- Provide telephone headsets
To learn more about ergonomics and reducing workplace MSDs, visit: https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics.
If you were injured because of your employer’s failure to address and rectify known hazards in the workplace, someone at our firm can help you file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides medical benefits and wage replacement to injured workers. To learn more about filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact a representative online now.
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