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Back injuries and the injured worker

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that more than 20 percent of illnesses and injuries in the workplace are due to back injuries. That amounts to more than 1 million employees. The most common problem is a pulled or strained muscle. Unfortunately, once the muscles, tendons or ligaments are damaged, it becomes easier to reinjure the back.

According to a report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common risk factors for lower back injuries are work activities associated with forceful movements, lifting and whole body vibrations. Other risk factors included heavy physical work and awkward positions.

The most common causes of lower back pain are:

-- Unexpected exertion

-- Improper lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, bending, lowering or twisting

-- Sudden slip or fall

-- Accumulation of trauma

Not only do workers often end up losing time and wages, but they can experience a reduced quality of life.

Unfortunately, there is no current approach to help completely eliminate injuries to the back. However, it is possible to decrease the number of back injuries while on the job. These include:

-- Property lifting techniques training

-- Stretching

-- Physical conditioning

-- Making objects or materials smaller in size to move.

-- Changing the height of objects or materials to move

-- Using mechanical aids

The most common types of back injuries are strains, sprains and herniated discs.

If you have suffered a back injury at work, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You should also notify your employer. Workers' compensation can help provide you with money to pay your medical expenses, lost wages and much more, depending on your injury.

Source: csosortho.com, "Types of Back Problems," accessed June 25, 2017

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