June 15th, 2020| Overexertion injuries cause more than one-third 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 avoiding 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 InjuriesOverexertion 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
How Overexertion Injuries HappenCertain 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 InjuriesThe 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
7 Tips for Avoiding Overexertion InjuriesPreventing 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.
- Move often. 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.
- Prioritize ergonomics. 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.