We think of work-related back injury in connection with jobs that require heavy lifting or labor, but the truth is that employees across a wide range of injuries and performing a wide range of jobs suffer work-related back injuries.
The Mayo Clinic warns that a variety of factors may contribute to on-the-job back injury, including force, repetition, slip and falls and even inactivity.
In fact, sitting at a desk all day can put significant stress on an employee’s back, particularly if the work set-up is less than ideal or the employee has bad posture. While this type of injury can be mitigated or avoided, many employees and employers simply aren’t aware of the need to take precautions.
Common Factors Associated with Workplace Back Injury
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) lists the following common contributing factors to back disorders:
- Reaching or twisting while lifting
- Poor posture
- Staying in one position for too long
- Poor body mechanics
- Poor physical condition
- Poor design of job or workstation.
- Repetitive lifting of awkward items
- Bending while lifting
- Maintaining bent postures
- Heavy lifting
- Poor footing
- Constrained posture
- Lifting forcefully
- Exposure to vibration
Protecting Against Back Injury in the Workplace
Awareness and education is the first step toward protecting against back strain and injury on the job—for both employers and employees. And, both parties should be equally motivated to implement those protections. The costs to an injured worker, such as pain, lost income, and limitation on the ability to engage in non-work activities are more readily apparent, but employers pay a price for back strain and injury as well.
It’s been estimated that employers lose about $346 per employee annually as a result of back injuries and disorders. For a large employer, that could mean hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in annual costs. Those costs include not just workers’ compensation and disability payments but also lost productivity due to absenteeism and inefficiencies created by workers showing up in pain or otherwise limited due to back pain.
Back Injury Safety Measures
The specific precautions warranted will depend in part on the type of work performed, the equipment used, and other factors specific to a workplace. However, some general principles apply across the board. For instance:
- Effective training for safe lifting techniques, equipment use, and safe execution of other job duties is critical and should be conducted before an employee is charged with a task and updated as necessary
- Employers must take care not to impose quotas or other requirements that conflict with safety restrictions such as maximum lifting capacity
- The work environment should be designed to avoid unnecessary strain on the back and other parts of the body
- Employers should provide and workers should faithfully use safety gear and equipment
Suffered a Back Injury at Work?
The Ohio workers’ compensation system was created to ensure that an injured worker has access to medical care and income during his or her recovery. While employer negligence may cause or contribute to on-the-job back injuries, the injured worker isn’t required to show any wrongdoing on the part of the employer.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation