December 20, 2018 - Heather Jackson

What Causes Back Injury in the Workplace?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Back injuries account for one out of every five injuries that occur in the workplace.” Out of the 80% of lower back injuries that occur, it’s almost always caused by manual materials handling tasks (slip, trip, twist or extended reach).

Here are some preventative ways you can help your employees keep injury away!

How Safe Are Your Employees From Back Injury?

The 5 most common back injury risk factors include:

  • Poor posture;
  • Improper body mechanics;
  • Poor physical condition;
  • Jobs that require high energy, and;
  • Incorrect lifting.

Unfortunately, back injury can occur just…like….that.

One minute your employee is reaching down to lift a heavy box onto the levy, and the next, he’s down on the floor, complaining of acute pain to his lower back and waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

Can this be preventable? Many times it can!

These 3 important steps can help prevent back injury from taking place altogether:

1. Proper Lifting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3/4 of all back injuries occur when an employee is lifting. To minimize risk, tighten your core muscles and lift with your knees, not your back. Keep the object as close to your body as possible, and ask for help when needed.

Employers: reinforce the importance of lifting, pushing, pulling and climbing safety. Ask members of your team to demonstrate the correct positioning and posture, and train them on what to do should a employee get hurt.

2. Exercise Daily. Strengthening your back is an important maintenance technique to reduce back injury. Not only does it offer overall health benefits, but the recommended exercise (3X/week at a moderate pace of 30 minutes per session) can keep you at your physical best – on and off the job. Offer a special safety training that focuses on strength training, weight lifting and cardio benefits.

The following exercises can strengthen your back, and reduce injury:

  • Plank Hold
  • Hip Lifts
  • Kneeling Extension
  • Abdominal Chair Crunch
  • Dead lifts
  • Chin-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Front Squats.

As an employer, you can encourage employees to take responsibility for their health, and actively strengthen it to prevent injury!

A couple ways to motivate the masses?

End a training session with a pull-up competition! Give employees extra time to work out once or twice a week.

A healthy work environment can help to lower the risk of injury – and boost camaraderie in the workplace!

3. Listen and Respond to What Your Body is Telling You. Encourage your team to ask for help when they need it. Many times, injury is caused by over-exertion. In fact, it’s the most common type of injury! Reiterate there is no shame is asking for help from another co-worker to lift, move, pull or push an object that is just too heavy for one person.

Encourage teamwork.

Enlist someone on each shift to ask if he/she need help, and then give them the resources to do their job safely.

Kick start a toolbox talks campaign that center around safe movement at work. Demonstrate and quiz workers on the proper form for lifting, pulling, and pushing. As your work culture makes safety more and more of a priority, reward them along the way.

Safety training matters – and it could save them from a painful and expensive back injury in the future!

Can Functional Capacity Evaluations Help My Business?

Back pain can occur at any time.

But, what happens when you hire someone to pull, lift and move heavy objects consistently – and they already have a history of back pain and/or injury?

Oops. You may have just hired the wrong worker. Wonder what that will end up costing you!

The WRONG worker is anyone who is unable to perform essential job functions that’s required.

It can also be someone who can do the job, but is at a high risk of injury from repetitive motion or job functions that their role requires of them. The key to checking each candidate before they’re hired is to make sure they can do the job you hire them to do!

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) determines an employee’s ability or capacity to do the work activities of the position for which they are being hired to do, or asked to do.

It compares their health status and body functions and/or structures to the demands of the job and the work environment.

Let’s say you are needing to hire an employee who will have to lift on a repetitive, daily basis.

If the candidate has had a history of back injury, it can prevent them from safety performing lifting tasks. If they lift, pull or push heavy objects, it can cause a re-injury. Lost time, a trip to the ER, and the cost of replacing the employee while they’re out is only the beginning.

Stop Hiring High Risk Workers by Starting Here

Our nationwide occupational health programs offer Functional Capacity Evaluations, random drug testing, silica exams and customized testing to keep you compliant and your employees safe at work.

Should an incident occur, we’re standing by with in-house Nurse Case Managers, 24/7, who are able to treat of 65% of cases in house with first aid measures.

This service is an immediate intervention, allowing you to provide optimal outcomes and help the employee return to work in an expedited manner.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you hire the “right employees” for the job?  What about discovering an easy way to lower your number of annual recordable injuries?

Contact us today by filling out the form above or give us a call at+1 (877) 502-9466


Posted in Injury Case Management