Back Injuries that could have been Prevented
Back injuries are the second most common reason people miss work in this country, eclipsed only by the common cold. Why are so many back problems plaguing the workforce, and what should employers be doing to minimize risks? Could simple workplace interventions have prevented a serious injury? If you have experienced a serious back injury in the workplace and believe your employer’s negligence is at fault, you may benefit from the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Causes of Back Injuries
With nearly a quarter of all workplace injuries related to lumbar pain, it is essential to understand the risks associated with back pain:
- Force on the back related to heavy lifting and moving heavy items;
- Repetitive movements causing undue strain and muscle fatigue;
- Slouching that leads to injuries and muscle fatigue;
- A combination of the above factors.
Employers are expected to provide safe working conditions for all employees. That means several measures must be taken:
- Employees should be trained in proper lifting techniques;
- Proper safety equipment must be provided;
- Workers should be strength tested in order to avoid exceeding their physical lifting capacity, and age and stamina should be considered in assigning work;
- Strength and conditioning programs, as well as stretching programs, should be instituted to ensure back health.
Work should be designed around the capacity of employees, creating a safe, yet productive working environment:
- The weight and/or size of objects that require lifting should be reduced;
- The height of materials on pallets and shelves should be minimized so as to allow workers’ bodies to align with objects that require lifting, eliminating twisting or carrying objects above shoulder level;
- Pneumatic lifts and other automated devices should be available for extreme lifting requirements.
Reasons Employers Fail to Control Injuries
Research points to four key reasons employers resist preventative programs:
- Costs associated with implementation;
- Desire to avoid stigma in the industry;
- Lack of knowledge as to the benefits;
- Suspicions about government regulation.
The fact is, integrative reviews of the research on back injuries point to one conclusion: intervention programs do make a difference. Responsible employers who implemented back schools, flexibility and strength training programs, educational classes, and the use of safety equipment such as back belts, had a reduction in employee back injuries.
Ignoring Safety Considerations
Has your employer demonstrated an interest in employee safety by implementing such programs? If not, you may be entitled to more than just workers’ compensations. When employers fail to address safety concerns, they may be liable for damages. Contact the experienced personal injury team at the Law Offices of David J. Hernandez & Associates in Brooklyn, New York for a free consultation. We will examine your case and look at the possibility of compensatory or punitive damages.