Back injuries are some of the most common types of work injuries. In fact, you may have suffered a back injury at work without even realizing it. A back injury can be sudden, or it can develop over time. When you are aware of the most common back injuries suffered at work, you can take steps to prevent them. In addition, you can watch out for the warning signs of an injury. The local Denver personal injury lawyers at Bachus & Schanker, LLC explain the most common work-related back injuries.
The most common back injuries suffered at work include the following:
Pulled muscles – Most jobs require a certain amount of lifting. Whether or not it’s a primary part of the job, how you lift can be very important to prevent a back injury. Pulled muscles from heavy lifting can result in a common type of back injury. Even with proper training and precautions, the strain of lifting something heavy can cause pulled muscles. Pulled muscles are often slow to heal, and you can reinjure the pulled muscle by exerting yourself again too soon.
Pinched nerves – A pinched nerve occurs because of too much pressure being placed on the spine. When a nerve gets pinched, it can send radiating pain throughout the body. In fact, a pinched nerve can cause extreme pain in the back and other places like the legs. When the bones, muscles, and other parts of the back exert pressure on a nerve, it can cause work-related back pain. Broken vertebrae are another cause of pinched nerves. Broken vertebrae should be ruled out in the event of a pinched nerve.
Vertebral fractures – Most vertebral fractures occur because of blunt trauma. When a vertebral fracture occurs, it can cause significant complications like severe pain, pinched nerves, and disrupted mobility. A vertebral fracture puts the back at risk for severe spinal cord injury. A vertebral fracture occurs when there is more pressure exerted on the back than it can withstand. Workers who engage in physical tasks are at risk for vertebral fractures, but many fractures in the back occur because of falling. All workers are at risk for a vertebral fracture in the workplace.
Pain from lack of use – For workers in an office environment, one type of work-related injury can be back pain from lack of use. Too much sitting isn’t healthy, and poor posture can cause chronic back pain. A poorly designed workspace that causes the worker to sit hunched over can contribute to a back injury from sitting. Workers should be allowed to take reasonable breaks to prevent back injuries from lack of use.
Chronic overuse – Just like lack of use can cause a work-related back injury, chronic overuse can also be a problem. Performing repetitive work over a long period can cause back injuries. Chronic overuse can cause dull pain in the back as well as stiffness. It’s important to treat chronic overuse injuries carefully and develop a long-term plan to work safely in a pain-free environment. Chronic overuse can also weaken the back and make it more susceptible to injuries from sudden trauma.
Bulged and slipped discs – The discs in between the spine play an important role in keeping the spine cushioned and secure. When these discs slip or protrude from where they’re supposed to be, the result can be pain and limited mobility. Sudden trauma or pressure from physical activity can cause a bulged or slipped disc. It can also be the result of a sudden injury. However, a bulged or slipped disc can occur because of repetitive trauma from daily tasks. Certain activities like bending forward and coughing can be extremely painful when you have a bulged or slipped disc.
What Causes Back Injuries at Work?
What causes back injuries at work is force, repetition, and inactivity. When work requires performing physical tasks, or even just during ordinary daily activities in an office setting, sudden trauma can put force or pressure on the back. The force can cause an acute back injury. Lifting, falling, or being struck by an object can all result in too much force being placed on the back.
Even without sudden force, a back injury can occur at work because of repetition. Most jobs include a certain amount of repetition. Despite taking precautions and following training about how to do tasks safely, repetition can result in an injury. Over time, the back sustains more pressure than it can withstand, causing injuries. Repetition injuries may result in an acute injury, or chronic pain may develop over time.
Finally, inactivity can cause back injuries at work. When physical activity or movement is not part of the job, some workers spend too much time sitting. The result can be slow injuries to the back over time. Inactivity can be a common cause of a work-related back injury.
What Happens When I Have a Work-Related Back Injury?
When you have a work-related back injury, you have rights. However, you need to properly document your injury and file your claim. You may have the right to claim compensation and medical care through the workers’ compensation system. You may also deserve compensation from a third party. When you have a work-related back injury, you need to report it to your employer. Making a report is the first and most important step. Even injuries that occur over time because of repetition qualify for workers’ compensation and medical care.
To receive compensation, you need to prove that your injuries are the result of your work. That means identifying the injury and the nature of the work that caused it. You need to document your injuries through medical care and make the proper reports and claims to receive compensation.
Whether you pursue compensation through the workers’ compensation system, a third-party lawsuit, or both, it’s essential to pursue your case carefully. You need to make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. That can only happen when you know what you deserve, and when you do the proper things to receive what’s owed to you under the law. With the average settlement for a workers’ compensation back injury being over $20,000, and with pain and suffering compensation available in third-party lawsuits, diligently pursuing your claim can ensure that you get every penny that you deserve and justice after your work-related back injury.