Common Causes of Back Injuries for Workers
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathleen M. Reilly with Brady Brady & Reilly, LLC.
Back injuries can occur in a variety of ways and are particularly common in industries that require manual labor; construction workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and nurses are at particularly high risk of suffering a back injury in the course of their employment. Back injuries can vary widely in severity, but should always be assessed and treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Waiting to seek medical care for a back injury could actually worsen the condition and make it harder to treat. When the injury occurs to the spine, it is particularly important to exercise caution and follow medical advice. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can be severe and life-altering; SCIs may even result in long-term or permanent disabilities depending on the situation.
Some of the most common causes of back injuries among workers include:
- Repetitive tasks (i.e. bending/crouching/reaching)
- Heavy lifting
- Pulling/pushing heavy objects
- Falling from a height
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sitting in one position for too long
- Driving long distances over physically jarring roads
If you injured your back at work, consider the following steps:
- Seek medical attention. If you know or suspect you may have suffered a back or spine injury, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. These injuries can be debilitating over time and if left untreated may even require surgery to correct. If you are concerned about medical bills, discuss the injury with your employer or Human Resources (HR) department; workers’ compensation may cover the cost of your medical bills and wages lost during recovery.
- Inform your employer. If you haven’t already, it’s important to let your employer know what’s going in. If your company has an HR department, reach out via phone or email to inform them of the injury and ask about your options. If your employer offers workers’ compensation or another form of employee injury insurance, they may be able to direct you to in-network medical care where your bills will be covered by employee benefits. If your company does not have an HR department, inform a supervisor or the employer and ask about your next steps.
- Document the scene of the injury. If the back or spine injury occurred in an accident of some sort, it’s important to document the scene where the injury occurred. It’s a good idea to take pictures of the location as well as any factors that may have contributed to the event; if you suspect the injury could have been prevented with attention to safety protocol, document this as well. If anyone witnessed the accident, it’s also a good idea to collect their name, contact information, and even testimony if they agree to be recorded. All of this can help prove how the injury occurred in case a dispute should arise. If you are too injured to collect this documentation yourself, a friend, loved one, or attorney can do so on your behalf.
- Follow the doctor’s orders. After seeking medical care for your injury it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders as closely as possible, even if you start to feel better. Failing to follow your doctor’s orders could actually disqualify you from continuing to receive workers’ compensation benefits, and could make it harder to prove the legitimacy of your injury if it flares up again.
- Talk to a workplace injury attorney. If your back injury occurred in a workplace accident, as the result of the employer’s or another party’s negligence, or the injury was severe, it’s important to talk to a workplace injury attorney. In some circumstances, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages in a workplace injury or third-party claim. If you are running into difficulties with your workers’ compensation benefits, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your options.
To learn more about workplace back injuries or for help filing a claim, reach out to a workplace injury attorney in your area.