A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that one in five work-related injury or illness reports involves back injuries. Statistics show that back injuries nationwide, including in Florida, exceed one million per year. Although reports indicate that back injuries are hard to prevent, precautionary steps are available.
Typical causes of back injuries
The following actions cause most work-related back injuries:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Using the strength of the back instead of the legs to lift objects
- Attempting to lift objects that are too heavy without help
- Twisting or turning the body while carrying or lifting objects
- Repetitive lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying and placing objects
- Precautions to mitigate back injuries
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. When it comes to the prevention of back injuries, a combination of controls can be effective.
Eliminating as many tasks requiring workers to lift objects is the most effective preventive step to prevent back injuries. Instead of manual lifting, forklifts, dollies and other heavy equipment can be used for lifting tasks. Another way to protect workers is to break down heavy loads into smaller parts to lift safely.
Making workplaces ergonomically safe can prevent most back injuries. An ergonomic assessment can show where conveyor belts and mechanical lifting devices would be feasible options to limit manual handling of heavy objects. Furthermore, such a study can show optimal lifting range areas to avoid dangerous or awkward lifts that could lead to injuries.
Employers can set a weight limit for lifting objects without help. Anything heavier must then be lifted with the help of a co-worker or a mechanical lifting device. It is also a good idea to make sure workers with enough strength and physical ability to lift objects are tasked with such jobs.
Florida workers’ compensation insurance
Injured workers are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, back injuries are not always the result of a single action. In many cases, the damage is progressive, and it is always a good idea to report it to the employer as soon as an injury becomes evident. Back injuries are typically better managed and treated sooner rather than later. Workers’ compensation will cover the medical expenses and lost wages.