Workers in the United States enjoy some of the safest working environments in the world as a result of the numerous state and federal laws aimed at keeping the workplace free from injuries. Despite this, workplace injuries do occur and many of them are back injuries. In fact, workers in the U.S. sustain over one million back injuries alone each year in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), only hand injuries surpass back injuries in frequency within the workplace.
Missing Work Due to Back Injuries
After the common cold, back injuries are the most frequent reason for workers to miss work, accounting for one in five injuries and illnesses in the workplace. The economic impact of back injuries, both on workers and employers, is staggering. The U.S. spends over $60 billion a year on the diagnosis and treatment of back injuries. If you suffered a work-related back injury, do not wait to seek treatment because the longer you wait the lesser the odds are of a full recovery.
Common Workplace Back Injuries
While it is possible to suffer a wide variety of injuries to your back in the workplace, there are some
common workplace back injuries, including:
- Acute low-back strains and sprains –a sudden injury to the muscles in your lower back that
cause them to be stretched or pulled.
- Bulging, herniated and slipped disc –between each vertebra in your spine is a soft cushion, or disc. The discs have a gel-like center and a tough exterior shell. An injury can cause the gel-like interior to push out of the shell. This can result in the disc tissue pushing on nearby nerves, causing severe pain.
- Fractured vertebrae –although a fracture is less serious than an actual break, fractured vertebrae can be particularly dangerous because bone fragments can damage nearby nerves or even the spinal cord itself.
- Pinched nerve –increased pressure from numerous sources can cause a “pinched” nerve along any part of the spine. The pressure may cause pain, tingling, or numbness down an affected leg or arm.
- Spinal stenosis –a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, occurring mainly in your neck or lower back, which can put pressure on the nerves in your spine. That pressure can result in pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness.
- Spinal cord injury –injury to your spinal cord can be incomplete or complete. A complete injury will cause total loss of feeling and control of everything below the level of the injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury may result in the loss of some, but not all, motor and sensory function below the level of the injury.
Causes of Back Injuries in the Workplace
Back injuries in the workplace can be the result of a single traumatic event or can be caused by a repetitive activity. Workers in certain industries are at a higher risk for suffering a back injury because of the nature of their jobs. Tractor-trailer drivers, for example, are at the highest risk of suffering a low back injury because of the heavy lifting coupled with sitting for long stretches at a time that is part of their daily routine. Or, of course, they can suffer back injuries due to accidents. Another common industry that sees these injuries is construction.
Other common causes of workplace back injuries include:
- Inadequate training or instruction
- Standing for long periods of time
- Poor seated posture
- Improper lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or bending
- Poorly designed workspaces
- Repetitive lifting, even if the item is relatively light
- Slippery floors or poorly maintained surfaces
What Should I Do If I Suffered a Workplace Back Injury?
Fortunately, most workplace back injuries are covered by the workers’ compensation system. If your injury qualifies, your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier will cover the cost of your medical treatment and lost wages. Because the workers’ compensation system can be difficult to navigate, it is always best to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible if you suffered a workplace back injury.
Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania dedicates its practice to helping those who have been hurt on the job and need the best possible representation in fighting for the benefits they need and deserve. Call us at 717-394-3004, or 1-800-HURT NOW or e-mail us at info@GeorgelisLaw.com, to set up a free consultation.