The Most Common Workplace Injuries and How to Prevent Them
If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is also the most common cause of job-related disability.
According to a recent study by the Sydney University, work-related lower back pain accounts for a third of all work-related disability worldwide. The study showed that back pain is the leading cause of work loss days in Australia, with 25 per cent of sufferers in the 18-44 age group taking 10 or more days off per year, and costing Australia around $4.8 billion each year for health care. That’s one expensive injury!
Most lower back pain is short term, but about 20% of sufferers develop chronic pain. This creates long term and costly impacts. Suffering from chronic back pain not only negatively affects your work life and earning capacity, it can cripple your personal life and mental health.
Back injuries are commonly caused by manual handling. This includes lifting or carrying heavy loads to pulling, pushing, holding or restraining any object.
Good posture and lifting techniques can help reduce the risks, but research indicates that making changes to workplace design is the most effective way to prevent manual handling injury.
Contributing ergonomic factors are also to blame for a growing number of back injuries. This means injuries sustained due to poor posture, bad office workstation set up, awkward equipment design or repetitive job movements.
Steps you can take to Avoid Back Injury at work
The back is particularly vulnerable to ergonomic and manual handling injuries. Safety suggestions include:
- Warm up cold muscles with gentle stretches before engaging in any manual work.
- Lift and carry heavy loads correctly by keeping the load close to the body and lifting with the thigh muscles.
- Never attempt to lift or carry loads if you think they are too heavy.
- Pushing a load (using your body weight to assist) will be less stressful on your body than pulling a load.
- Use mechanical aids or get help to lift or carry a heavy load whenever possible.
- Organise the work area to reduce the amount of bending, twisting and stretching required.
- Cool down after heavy work with gentle, sustained stretches.
- Exercise regularly to strengthen muscles and ligaments.
- Lose any excess body fat to improve fitness.
- Update engineering controls to ergonomic workplace standards
- Adjust your work station and equipment to support correct posture
- Ensure regular breaks are taken from work that places any strain on your back
- Regularly monitor and update any risk identification
Your workplace occupational health and safety coordinator can give you advice about managing the risks associated with manual handling.
If you do happen to sustain a back injury in your workplace, it is important to report it immediately. These are the First 4 Things You Should Do If You Have Been Injured at Work
This is not intended to be exhaustive advice in relation to workplace back injuries. Please contact your workplace occupational health and safety coordinator. If you have any further questions, please contact our office on (08) 9581 4339. We provide an initial consultation at no cost to discuss your current claim and possible entitlements. We also act on a no win no fee basis if we are able to assist with your claim.