Don't Injure Your Back at Work in the First Place:
Preventing Back Injuries in the Workplace
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Every year, thousands of hardworking New Jerseyans suffer from back injuries at work. It’s a hard truth, but what’s harder? Back injuries can be life-altering. The immense pain and suffering that these injuries can cause. In an ideal world, employers take preventive measures to help prevent back injuries, including, for example, safety equipment.
As a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney, I’ve seen it all. From warehouse workers who’ve hurt their backs lifting heavy boxes to office employees suffering from chronic pain after years of sitting at poorly set up workstations. Their stories differ, but the struggle, the discomfort, and the impact on their lives are strikingly similar.
But here’s the thing – many of these injuries can be prevented. Yes, you heard that right. Prevention is not just a possibility; it’s a necessity. Prevention, however, is a two-way street. It involves employers and employees taking active steps to ensure a safe and healthy working environment.
Our goal? To arm you with the knowledge and strategies to keep your back strong and healthy, whether you’re clocking in at a construction site, a hospital, a restaurant, or an office. To help employers understand their role in creating safe workspaces. And ultimately, to help prevent the pain and disruption that a back injury can bring to a worker’s life.
And what of the societal costs? A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association focused on healthcare spending in the United States. The study found that back pain (upper and lower) constitutes the third highest category of healthcare spending to the tune of $87.6 billion (as of the time period in question from 1996 to 2013). The topic does receive much attention from highly regarded sources. The advice is often generic in nature but important nevertheless to understand and apply at the workplace. Mayo Clinic, for example, offers advice on how to avoid a back injury at work.
Battle Against Back Injuries:
Essential Strategies for Employees
A strong back is your body’s best defense in the battle against workplace injuries. How do you build that defense? It’s simpler than you might think. Let’s break it down.
Master Proper Lifting Techniques
The way you lift matters. A lot. Forget the old “bend and snap.” Instead, think “squat, hold, and lift.” Keep your back straight. Use your legs to lift. They’re stronger than your back. And always hold the item close to your body. That’s the safe way to lift, whether it’s a box of printer paper or a piece of heavy machinery.
Take Regular Breaks
Working non-stop isn’t a badge of honor. It’s a one-way ticket to back pain. Your body needs breaks. Stand up. Stretch. Walk around. Every 30 minutes if you can. Your back will thank you.
Maintain Good Posture
Good posture isn’t just for beauty queens. It’s for everyone who wants to avoid back pain. So, sit up straight. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Your back is aligned against your chair. It might initially feel odd, but your back will thank you in the long run.
Stay Active and Healthy
Exercise is your back’s best friend. It keeps your muscles strong. Your body is flexible. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. And remember, every little bit helps.
Take Smith Packaging, for instance, a hypothetical local New Jersey business. They saw an increase in back injuries among their warehouse staff. Instead of ignoring the issue, they tackled it head-on. They brought in a professional trainer to teach proper lifting techniques. They revamped their break schedule to allow for frequent rest periods. They even organized weekly yoga sessions to promote flexibility and strength.
And the result? A significant drop in back injuries.
Their approach is a prime example of an employer taking active steps to keep their employees safe. It shows how focusing on prevention can make a real difference in the workplace. And trust me, it’s a difference that’s worth making.
So, remember, whether you’re an employer or an employee, taking care of your back at work is a team effort. It’s about understanding the risks, using the proper techniques, and promoting a safety culture. Because, at the end of the day, a healthy back is a happy back.
Frontline Defense: Employers' Role
in Battling Back Injuries
Employers, you have a critical part in this battle against back injuries. Your leadership can set the tone for a safer, healthier workspace. Here are a few strategies to consider:
Training is Essential
It’s not enough to tell employees to lift with their legs. Show them. Provide training sessions on safe lifting techniques. Involve every staff member, from the newest hire to the seasoned veteran. An investment in training is an investment in safety.
Ever heard of ergonomics? It’s the science of designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely. It can be a game changer for reducing back injuries.
For example, adjustable chairs, workstations at the correct height, and providing footrests can make a significant difference. Ergonomics isn’t just about comfort – it’s about health, safety, and productivity. CBS News published an article back in 2007 on understanding ergonomics which still provides an excellent overview of the benefits of implementing ergonomic policies in the workplace.
Foster a Culture of Breaks
Rest is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Encourage employees to take regular breaks. Promote stretching exercises. Consider bringing in professionals for office yoga sessions or chair massages. Remember, a well-rested employee is a more productive and healthier one.
Employers, you hold a lot of power. You can choose to use that power to build a safer workspace and protect your employees from back injuries. Remember, safety is not a cost; it’s an investment. An investment that pays off is healthier employees, better productivity, and a happier workplace.
Infographic Summary of Article
If You Do Suffer a Back Injury on the Job, Get an Experienced and Knowledgeable Attorney on Your Side to Navigate the Workers Compensation System
Dealing with New Jersey’s workers’ compensation can seem intimidating. Not to mention, a back injury may put your life on hold. It only takes one work accident to turn your life into a 180-degree turn. In these trying times, you need as much professional help as possible. Start with getting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A highly skilled workers’ comp attorney can help secure the compensation you deserve.
John F. Renner is an experienced workers’ compensation attorney based in New Jersey. With over 25 years of experience, you can trust that you will be in good, knowledgeable hands. He can help you gather the evidence you need for your case, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for you in court if necessary. He understands the system surrounding New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws and will work tirelessly to defend your rights. Contact his office now at (856) 596-8000. We have your back.