back injury at work

Back injuries are a common type of workplace injury. A serious back injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to work for a lengthy period of time. Some back injuries require surgery to address severe pain or improve function. If you sustained a back injury on the job in South Carolina, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer, including paid medical care and partial replacement of lost wages.

At Joye Law Firm, our attorneys understand the adverse effects that back injuries can have on a person’s daily activities, ability to work, and overall enjoyment of life. Our workers’ compensation lawyers have helped countless injured workers, who just like you, faced serious injuries and an uncertain path forward. We’ve helped many workers who suffered back injuries on the job seek all the benefits provided by South Carolina law, and we’re standing by to help you.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today to speak with an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney.

How Common Are Workplace Back Injuries?

Most Americans experience back pain at some point. Back injuries account for twenty percent of all workplace injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than a million workers sustain back injuries each year.  Most back injuries involve injuries to the lower back.

How Does The Back Work?

The back includes the spine composed of 33 vertebrae stacked vertically, discs that cushion the vertebrae and provide flexibility to bend, and muscles that hold the spine in place.

The spinal discs are fibrous pads with a jelly-like center. They act like shock absorbers. The spinal cord passes through an opening in the vertebrae and transmits nerve signals from the brain to the rest of the body.

The back has a system of muscles that give the body strength and mobility. When people talk of strengthening their core, they mean strengthening the lower back muscles and the front abdominal muscles that provide stability to the entire body.

What Causes Workplace Back Injuries?

Handling materials such as manually lifting and carrying loads causes most back injuries on the job.

Factors that can contribute to a back injury include:

  • Force – Force is the transference of energy. When too much force is placed on the back, it can become damaged. This force is often caused by lifting and moving heavy loads.
  • Repetitive motions – Bending, twisting and other repetitive movements can cause long-term wear and tear and repetitive motion injuries to the back
  • Posture and body mechanics – Posture and body mechanics refer to the body’s position while sitting, standing, moving, or lifting. The back works best when upright. Improper positioning can cause injury.
  • Inactivity – Inactivity can put a strain on the back, especially when combined with poor posture.

If a lower back muscle is under too much stress, it can strain or tear. Back strains are a common and painful type of injury in which inflammation can lead to difficulty moving.

When too much force is exerted on a disc, the disc can bulge or rupture through the side. The bulging or ruptured material can press on nerves, causing severe pain that radiates down the arms or legs.

Finally, vertebrae can become chipped or fractured. A fracture can occur in a fall, being struck by a falling load, or in a motor vehicle accident.

How Can Workplace Back Injuries Be Prevented?

Workplace back injuries are common and preventing injuries remains a challenge. Below are some recommendations to reduce the risk of back injuries at work.

Lift Properly.

Lifting heavy objects puts force on the back. Proper lifting techniques and ergonomic design of work tasks can reduce the chance of injury.

Before you lift an item, ask yourself the following questions. Can lifting be avoided by using a hand truck or other device? Is there someone else to help with the lifting?

If you determine that you can safely lift the item, your next step is to make sure that there is a clear pathway. Stepping over or around obstacles can cause injury. Face the object with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down with the legs instead of the back, keeping the back as vertical as possible. Lift the object vertically and close to the body, tightening the stomach muscles and relying on a combination of the legs, arms, and back to handle the load. Using these techniques can help reduce the chances of an injury while lifting.

Maintain Good Posture.

People with desk jobs or who spend a lot of time sitting can develop workplace back injuries. Poor posture in a chair or sitting in one position for too long can strain the back, especially if a person has weak lower back muscles and the vertebrae and discs bear the burden of support.

Good posture is important. You should sit upright with both feet flat on the ground and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Adjust the desk and any computer monitor so that the forearms are parallel to the floor when typing, and the screen is easily visible when looking straight ahead.

Another good practice is to get up from the seated position every 30 minutes and spend a few minutes walking or stretching the back. Many people, especially those with preexisting back conditions, make use of standing desks. A standing desk can be raised from lap height to torso height to facilitate sitting or standing posture.

Learn To Modify Repetitive Tasks.

Repetitive actions can strain the back and lead to a workplace back injury. For instance, when a person lifts numerous items in repetition as part of their job duties, they risk fatiguing the lower back muscles, putting more strain on the discs.

Strengthen Your Core and Stretch.

The spine needs strong back and abdominal muscles to stay aligned and supported. Physical conditioning and stretching are important to reduce the risk of muscle strain. With weaker core muscles, the vertebrae and the discs absorb more force.

What Should I Do If I Have a Workplace Back Injury?

Workplace back injuries can have life-altering consequences. The pain can leave you unable to work, prevent you from taking part in activities that you once enjoyed, and make it difficult to handle routine daily activities.

If you have suffered a back injury while on the job, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries. The workplace back injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm can assess your situation and discuss your legal options. We are proud of our record of helping injured workers who turned to us for assistance. We can help you develop a back injury at work claim, and seek the medical help you need to recover. Call us at 888-324-3100 or contact us online to speak with a back injury lawyer in South Carolina for free.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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