How to Avoid Overexertion Injuries at Work
March 14th, 2023|
Originally published June 15, 2020.
Overexertion injuries cause nearly one-fourth of all work-related injuries every year. They’re the most common reason for missed days at work and cost businesses billions of dollars annually. By learning how to avoid overexertion injuries, workers can be more productive, have longer careers, and enjoy a better quality of life. Before we learn how to avoid these injuries, we need to understand what they are and how they happen.
EXAMPLES OF OVEREXERTION INJURIES
Overexertion injuries can occur after performing repetitive movements over long periods or with one sudden movement. A few of the most common examples of overexertion injuries include:
- Soft-tissue injuries – Injuries to ligaments, tendons, muscles, etc.
- Back injuries – Pulled, strained back muscles or damage to the spinal cord, such as a slipped disc or cracked vertebrae
- Heat stroke and dehydration – Most common among workers doing heavy manual labor outdoors
- Repetitive stress injuries – Injuries ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to stress fractures, often the result of weeks, months, or years of repeated movements
In many cases, two or more overexertion injuries can occur at the same time. For example, a worker might be more likely to pull a muscle if they are dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion. Lifting a heavy object can trigger an acute injury that stems from years of repeated actions.
HOW OVEREXERTION INJURIES HAPPEN
Certain movements and activities are more likely to cause overexertion injuries than others. Some of the most common examples include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Performing unnatural movements
- Sitting or standing for long periods
- Using excessive force to perform a task
- Vibrations, typically from heavy machinery
- Working in extremely hot and/or humid environments
INDUSTRIES WITH HIGH RATES OF OVEREXERTION INJURIES
The National Safety Council provides a list of industries in which overexertion injuries are most common. They include:
- Education and health services
- Retail trade
- Professional and business services
- Transportation and warehousing
- Wholesale trade
From this data, we get a clearer picture of how these injuries happen and where they’re most likely to occur. Though workers who operate heavy machinery or lift heavy objects are more likely to suffer overexertion injuries, workers in any setting are at risk if they and their employers don’t take steps to protect their health and wellbeing.
7 TIPS FOR AVOIDING OVEREXERTION INJURIES
Preventing overexertion injuries requires preparation and mindfulness. The more aware you are of how you’re performing tasks, the better positioned you’ll be to look for more efficient ways to perform them. Here are seven ways you can reduce your chances of suffering an overexertion injury:
Use safe lifting techniques.
Keep objects you’re lifting close to your body. Maintain proper posture throughout the lift. Try to lift with your knees instead of your lower back. In addition, ask for help if an object is too large or heavy for you to lift on your own.
Break up and limit time spent doing repetitive tasks.
Distribute repetitive tasks throughout your day instead of doing them in one block of time. If possible, look for ways to avoid performing the same taxing task repeatedly.
If you sit or stand for long periods, find opportunities to move and stretch fatigued muscles.
Rest when you need to.
Whenever you’re hot or tired, take frequent water and rest breaks.
Take pain seriously.
Persistent pain can be a warning sign of a more serious injury to come. Listen to your body and avoid performing tasks that contribute to chronic pain.
Ergonomics means “fitting a person to a job,” and it’s all about performing the correct movements for a given task. Take ergonomics seriously by considering the position your body is in when you perform tasks and look for ways to perform these tasks in a way that is less taxing on your anatomy.
Perform corrective exercises.
Whether you’re in the same position all day or using certain muscles more often than others, you’ll benefit from corrective exercises. These exercises help you correct poor posture and ensure the strength of less frequently used muscles.
IF YOU NEED A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY, CALL US
Most overexertion and workplace injuries are preventable. It’s vital that employers give their workers proper training, equipment, and rest to ensure overexertion injuries never occur. When employers fail to do so, employees have rights to seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other expenses. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we help injured people get the payment they’re entitled to. If you were hurt through no fault of your own, contact our Bay Area personal injury attorneys today and speak to our team at no cost. We want to help you explore your legal options, so you can find the best path to the compensation you deserve.