Avoid the Pain of Workplace Back Injuries

Whether it’s a dull ache, a restricting stiffness or a sharp scream for attention, back pain makes it difficult to focus on your work.

Some occupations, such as construction, nursing and manufacturing, can place extraordinary demands on the back, causing painful, often lingering injuries. Even sitting at a desk all day, however, can cause back pain.

Experts cite four main work-related factors that can increase the risk of back pain and injury:

  • Overexertion: Exerting too much force on your back can cause injuries and pain. If your job requires physical exertion, you could sustain an injury if you frequently lift or move heavy objects.
  • Repetition: If you repeat certain physical activities involving your back (lifting, bending, etc.) over and over again, you are at risk of a back injury. Repetitious tasks can lead to fatigue, muscle strains and injuries, particularly if they involve awkward body positioning.
  • Posture: This refers to your body position as you sit, stand or perform physical tasks. If you work at a computer all day, you may experience back pain from sitting still for extended periods. People generally need to move and readjust their body position about every 20 minutes.
  • Stress: Work pressures can induce stress and cause muscle tension and tightness, leading to back pain (and other ailments such as hypertension).

If any of these factors are prominent in your workplace or work habits, consider the wide variety of ways to fix and prevent problems that can cause back injuries and back pain:

  • Fitness: Regular exercise is the best preventative maintenance you can do for yourself to help avoid back injuries.
  • Posture: Slouching or standing in a swayback position exaggerates your back’s curves, leading to muscle fatigue and injury. Good posture both relaxes muscles and requires less effort to maintain balance.
  • Lifting: When you lift a heavy object, let your legs do most of the work and keep the object close to your body. If something is too heavy, get help.
  • Planning: Think about ways to cut down on repetitive movements. If you have to lift something heavy, know where you’re going before you start and make sure the path is clear of obstructions.
  • Readjusting: If you sit or stand for long periods at work, take a half-minute timeout every 15 to 20 minutes to stretch or relax.

If your back is injured while you are working, inform your supervisor as soon as possible and get medical attention.

If you have suffered a workplace injury and are being denied workers’ compensation, talk to a workers’ compensation attorney who can help protect your rights.