Did you know that there are more than one million American workers contending with pain and other symptoms related to back injuries each year, due to accidents at work? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one in five injuries occurring on the job are related to the back. The statistics in and around Saint Petersburg do not vary greatly. A quarter of the many compensation requests made due to work-related injury are made as a result of back injury. And three-quarters of those accidents will occur when an employee is lifting something of substantial weight.
Unfortunately, backs are naturally susceptible to injury, particularly when a person is not in great physical shape or is unfamiliar with doing manual labor. Lifting injuries are not limited to construction sites and similar work sites. Even office workers can experience the catching, burning sensation commonly reported with a tweaked back. Lifting five gallon water bottles, large boxes of printer paper, or relocating office furniture can be enough to throw a person’s back out of whack. Poorly arranged workstations can put undue stress on the back, leaving an employee even more prone to strains, sprains, and worse. It’s important for employers to remember that this is the case.
Furthermore, there is no known method for entirely eliminating the risk of back injury. However, that is not to say that risk can’t be mitigated. Reduce the dangers by taking progressive, preventive steps in your office and on job sites.
OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – recommends the following methods of reducing susceptibility to work-related injuries, especially back-related problems.
Employee Testing. When interviewing potential candidates before filling an open position with a company, employers will often give a mental assessment to determine how well the candidate’s intellect matches the requirements of the job. The same should be done to determine whether the future employee will hold up to the physical rigors of the job. In this way, the company will know if certain assignments would exceed the person’s physical abilities.
Proper Training. It might seem safe to ask a person to pick something up and move it on the job site. After all, everyone knows how to lift and carry, right? While this is something that we learn to do at the very youngest ages, there are several ways to lift an object. Doing so in an unsafe manner increases the risk of injury. Bring in a professional and train your employees how to lift and carry heavy objects in the right way.
Encourage Physical Condition. Reward employees who take it upon themselves to stay in good physical health. Regular training of the core muscle group will greatly reduce a person’s susceptibility to back injury.
Give Them a Hand. Protect your employees by providing the tools they may need to reduce the amount of weight to be handled manually. Pneumatic lifts, conveyors, and other handling equipment can be well worth the investment.
Though the time and expense related to such changes can mount up, it is important to recall what costs one will face when employees suffer such an injury on the job. Not only is there the loss of labor, workman’s compensation, hiring and training of temporary or permanent replacements to consider, one must also remember that workers in St. Petersburg have the right to consult a personal injury attorney, if the company failed to properly provide a safe work environment.