Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Workplace injuries: Preventing back injuries

California workers in all industries are vulnerable to back injuries. These workplace injuries threaten employees from construction, warehousing and transportation industries to office workers and cashiers. However, proper safety training can prevent back injuries, and the responsibility to provide such training is on the shoulders of the employer.

Typical causes of back injuries include improper lifting, pushing pulling and moving objects, and also extended periods of sitting or standing -- especially with wrong postures. The prevention of back injuries involves training in proper lifting and carrying and putting down heavy or large objects. When an object is picked up, it is essential to use the leg muscles and not the back muscles. This is done by bending the knees and keeping the back straight because bending at the waist or twisting the spine can have severe consequences.

When carrying a heavy or large object, the elbows should be held close to the body, with the object held as if in a bear hug. The grip must be secure, and workers should use extra caution when putting the object back down. Bending at the knees and keeping the back straight with the head up will avoid overexertion of the back muscles. Workers who spend significant periods of their workdays standing need footrests and floor mats to prevent excessive strain on the spinal discs.

Proper ergonomics can ensure that computer screens, keyboards and other equipment are placed at the correct heights. Appropriate chairs can further prevent back injuries. Frequent breaks can prevent repetitive strain injuries in those who repeat the same motions for many hours.

Workplace injuries that cause back damage can happen in the blink of an eye or develop progressively over time. Victims should not leave back injuries untreated because it could lead to chronic pain and long-term health problems. Proving such injuries to be work related could be challenging, but help is available. An experienced California workers' compensation attorney can assist with the navigation of benefits claims.

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