Receiving a back injury isn’t something a lot of California workers think about until it happens. Yet according to OSHA, lifting heavy loads is a leading cause of injury in the workplace. Heavy lifting is just one of a number of different ways a worker can sustain a back injury.
OSHA describes a heavy load of greater than 50 pounds as increasing the risk of back injury. Some items in particular can be bulky and put excessive strain on vertebrae and muscles, including conduit bundles, heavy machinery or tools, and big wire spools. However, a worker may injure his or her back by picking up a load of smaller weight and continuing to hold it for an extended period of time. When a person is constantly supporting a load, even if it is light, it starves the muscles of nutrients, causing waste products in the body to build up and thus boosting the risk of shoulder and back injuries.
Sometimes the surrounding environment can result in workplace back injury. A jobsite that is cold can stiffen muscles. Reduced muscle flexibility can in turn cause a worker to pull a muscle. Conversely, if a workplace is too hot, a worker may suffer from fatigue and dehydration, as well as an increase in metabolic load. Additionally, if a workplace is improperly maintained, a worker may not be able to access an object and is forced to twist or bend to grab it. Awkward posturing can result in hurting one’s back. Finally, OSHA identifies poor lighting or low visibility as a problem that can cause a worker to trip and fall down.
Back injuries are a common way workers can get hurt. Fortunately, doctor visits for workplace injuries can be covered by workers’ compensation. Anyone injured on the job should see a doctor as soon as possible to diagnose the problem and come up with suitable treatment.
This article is intended to educate on common workplace causes of back injury and is not to be taken as legal advice.