Every year, 1 million back injuries account for at least one fifth of injuries sustained at work. As well as causing the loss of over 260 million work days, painful and enduring back injuries can have a devastating effect on workers’ health. From taking steps to avoid common causes of back pain to dealing with more complex cases involving spinal cord injuries, workers, employers and other organizations can work together to reduce the medical, financial and personal impact of often life-altering back injuries sustained in the workplace.
Reducing The Impact Of Spinal Cord Injuries
One of the most serious back injuries a worker may experience is one that damages the spinal cord. These injuries can be devastating, causing long-term pain and suffering. In addition, the financial impact of a spinal cord injury can be enormous. Research from the University of South Carolina reveals that, although more patients survive longer with this injury, the costs of hospitalization and ongoing healthcare can be overwhelming. While Janet, Janet and Suggs note that not every personal injury case is clear cut, they explain that any worker injured through no fault of their own should be entitled to compensation for their injuries. With advice from experienced lawyers, injured workers can obtain the financial support they need to alleviate their pain and cover lost wages and medical bills.
Preventing Falls In Construction
Common in the construction industry, falls from elevation cause serious workplace injuries. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, almost a third of spinal cord injuries are caused by falls. In addition to damage to the spinal cord, construction workers are often prone to sprains, herniated discs or fractured vertebrae, and other serious injuries that can often be fatal. An annual initiative from OSHA to highlight the problem of falls on construction sites has recently been supported by the Illinois Department of Labor. By bringing attention to the problem of falls, sharing new resources for fall prevention, and providing lesson plans on safety, it is hoped that the number of injuries and deaths in the construction industry can be prevented.
Avoiding Lower Back Pain From Lifting
While serious falls and accidents can lead to life threatening spinal injuries, a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 80% of back-related workplace injuries were to the lower back, and largely caused by lifting or carrying objects. To deal with these common injuries, Maryland University’s Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk advises the removal of lifting from any job where possible. When lifting cannot be avoided, adequate training in appropriate lifting techniques should be given. This should be combined with the risk analysis of individual jobs, and regular inspections and preventative maintenance of handling equipment in order to minimize the risk of injury to workers.
Back injuries are common in the workplace, and preventing their occurrence should be a priority for both employers and workers. By raising awareness of risks, providing adequate training, and offering support when accidents do occur, the often lifelong impact of these injuries can be minimized.