California workers that sustain back injuries on the job likely wonder how they could have avoided getting hurt in the first place. Given the unexpected nature of so many back injuries, it is important to look at common causes of back injuries to try and prevent them from happening. Avoiding injury can save workers pain, suffering and the distress of losing days at work while trying to heal.
OSHA points out that attempting to lift a heavy load is one of the main causes of injuries in the workplace. Improper lifting can result in injuries to the back and shoulders, and may include pulling muscles and spraining the back. Wrists, elbows, legs or the worker's spine may also suffer damage. Harmful lifting practices can take a number of forms.
Objects that are too heavy to be lifted safely can easily cause back injury. OSHA classifies objects heavier than 50 pounds as back injury risks. Some objects, such as heavy equipment and large wire spools, are too bulky to be moved or carried with hands without risking back injuries. In these cases, it is safer for a worker to use a hand dolly, seek help from another worker, or use a forklift or other mechanical lifting device.
Lifting heavy objects is not the sole source of lifting injuries. Workers may pick up more modestly weighed objects and carry them for too long. The longer a person supports an object, the longer muscles are deprived of nutrients. This results in increases in waste products in the body, which could boost the chances of injury to the shoulders and back.
Poor workplace placement
Some workplaces do not position their inventory or equipment in easy to access locations. Consequently, a worker may have to twist or reach around to pick up a box or drag out a tool. If the object the worker needs is too heavy, the worker’s back may be overtaxed and suffer injury. The worker may also get hurt if the worker is positioned awkwardly while trying to handle an object that is otherwise easy to pick up.
Be aware that this article is written for the educational benefit of the reader and does not provide any legal advice.