Work Related Back Injuries: What Are the Risks?

Many jobs require a certain level of physical exertion which can often lead to back pain and injuries down the line. While any job involving manual labor should have safe handling guidelines in place, majority of work related back injuries or MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) are caused by over-extension and overworking the back, neck, arms, and spine. Musculoskeletal disorders are defined as injuries or disorders of the tendons, joints, cartilage, muscles, spine, and nerves.  According to the Department of Labor, there have been over 130,000 cases of work-related back issues and injuries, such as carpal tunnel and tendinitis that have resulted in time loss on the job.  While it is extremely important for those suffering from back injuries to have time to heal and recover, any time loss on a job can result in grave consequences for the worker, and can often cause the same or more trauma if they return to a heavier workload than before. It’s important to be aware of the risk factors involving MSDs in order to prevent repeat trauma and time loss on your job.

1)      Job Related Risks– transference, heavy lifting, mobilizing, and positioning of certain materials or objects are often routine tasks for certain occupations. If your job requires any of the above on a consistent basis, make sure to follow any company guidelines for safe and proper handling. Also it’s important to make sure your job is complying with labor laws for overtime work and breaks, as you need the necessary rest periods in order to prevent excess strain on your back and spine.

2)      Repeat Trauma– constant strains and pulls may not seem like a major issue at first, but due to the slow and progressive nature of MSDs, and the damage being mostly internal, many workers do not address these until it becomes more severe. If injured on the job, be sure to speak to your union rep or supervisor about Worker’s Compensation, and go through the proper channels to make sure you receive the care you need to prevent a repeat trauma that may eventually prevent your ability to do your job properly or at all.

3)      Personal Health Issues– While you may be qualified physically to perform certain tasks on the job, your overall condition of health affects how likely you are to suffer from a work related back injury. Obesity, knee and foot problems, or an internal health condition can all contribute to a musculoskeletal disorder, and you should see your doctor or physician before taking on any new roles that may require more stress on your body than usual.

Everyone is entitled to make an honest living doing what works best for them, but always be mindful of how your job is treating your body as well as your pockets. If it’s necessary, talk to your supervisor about time-off for recovery, and always consult your doctor after suffering from a work related injury.