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Back injuries on the job

Countless people in Pennsylvania and across the country suffer from back injuries each year. This is especially true for those injured on the job. Back injuries account for one out of five job-related injuries or illnesses, states the U.S. Department of Labor. Every year, over 1 million employees suffer from a back injury on the job.

What are the most common ways an employee might hurt his or her back at work? A typical injury might occur in the following situations:

  • Lifting a box or other heavy item improperly
  • Carrying or holding a heavy item for an extended period of time
  • Lowering the item without the proper support or technique
  • Attempting to pick up an object that is too heavy for one person to safely lift
  • Failing to use a dolly, forklift or other implement meant for safe lifting, and attempting to pick up the item on one’s own

Most back injuries occur to the lower back, and in fact three out of four injuries occur while lifting objects, as opposed to falling or other ways to get a back injury. Employers may help their workers avoid a debilitating injury to training them on proper lifting techniques and safety protocols, implementing strength training and stretching programs at work and testing the strength of employees before allowing them to pick up heavy objects. They may also set limits at to the size or weight an item can be for one person to lift without help.

According to Spine-health, recovery from a back injury may take months. These injuries can involve the vertebrae, discs, muscles and ligaments of the back. Back injuries tend to heal slowly and require physical therapy or prescription pain medications. Therefore, the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure may go a long way in this aspect.

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