Back injuries make up roughly one in five injuries suffered in the workplace. Even worse, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than one million American workers incur back injuries every year. Fortunately, workers in New York who understand the basics of workplace back injuries have higher chances of receiving workers’ compensation.
Understanding the back
The spinal column sits at the center of the back and protects the spinal cord, which is responsible for carrying signals to and from the brain. In addition to supporting the internal organs, the back acts as a lever when picking up objects. When an average adult male picks up a 10-pound object, they’re actually placing over 1,000 pounds of force on their lower back.
Causes of workplace back injuries
Three main factors cause workplace back injuries: force, repetition and inactivity.
Injuries involving force consist of situations that put immense strain on the back, including lifting and carrying heavy items.
Heavy lifting isn’t the only cause of back injuries in the workplace, despite what most people think. Repetition also leads to many injuries. Frequent lifts, carries, twists and binds often cause injuries.
Paradoxically, inactivity also causes many back injuries. This category includes poor posture and sitting for long periods.
Proven ways to keep your back in good shape
Ultimately, there’s no surefire way to prevent back injuries without fail. Still, people who study the human body recommend several strategies to prevent accidents in the workplace that cause back problems.
Even if you don’t like to exercise, make a habit of performing back exercises at least once a week. Combined with core-strengthening exercises and daily stretches, your back will absorb less strain when performing heavy lifts and carries.
Use tools to make repetitive tasks less stressful. For example, if you work a job involving lots of heavy lifts, use lift-assist tools. Conversely, if you work a desk job that involves many phone calls, use a wireless headset to avoid sandwiching your phone between your head, neck and shoulder.
Lastly, always use good posture and lift all objects — heavy and lightweight — with proper form.
While you can’t always avoid back injuries in the workplace, taking the following measures will undoubtedly reduce your exposure to chronic back pain and debilitating back injuries.