While a back injury is generally not a life-threatening injury, it is definitely one of the most disabling, affecting an average of 220,000 workers in the US alone. Recognizing the common causes that contribute to increasing your risk of developing a back injury at work and addressing these causes proactively can be your best defense against a disabling back injury.
In general, there are four common causes of back injury at work:
- EXCESSIVE FORCE - depending on your physiology, your back can only carry a limited permissible weight on top of the weight of your own upper body. Going beyond this permissible weight limit increases your risk for a back injury at work. Applying a sudden force to lift a load, even if it weighs within your permissible weight limit, or carrying a load too far from your body's center of mass, will also greatly increase your risk of developing a back injury. The injury may not happen right away, but over time, the cumulative stresses will hurt you.
- REPETITIVE MOVEMENTS - tasks at work that you do repeatedly the whole shift, especially movements that you perform in an awkward position, can put tremendous stress on your back leading to severe muscle fatigue or back injury.
- POSTURE AT WORK - how well you keep your back relaxed or near its natural curvature, whether seated or standing while at work, determines how much you expose yourself to back injury. Whenever possible, you need to shift your position every 20 minutes to ease cumulative stress on your back.
- EMOTIONAL STRESS - being emotional while at work increases the possibility of taking unnecessary risks or exerting excessive force while performing a task. Stress and pressure at home and at work also causes muscle tension and tightness which may lead to back pain.
A proactive approach in addressing these four common causes of back injury at work will go a long way in saving you from suffering a painful and disabling back injury.