Back injuries in the workplace are nothing to take lightly. Even if you only experience the slightest pain, it can lead to debilitating back problems that endure through adulthood and make it difficult to do your job.
Injuring your back at work is a lot more common than you might think. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that back injuries account for over 20% of all workplace injuries. If you’re concerned about back pain or injuries that will leave you out of work for weeks, consider seeking workers’ compensation to cover lost wages and medical expenses.
Types of Back Pain
There are multiple types and levels of severity to back pain. If you’re planning on seeking workers’ compensation after a back injury in the workplace, it’s important to understand the difference between different types. Your diagnosis can make a significant impact on the benefits available to you.
Acute back pain is typically quite severe and onset immediately after an injury. Acute back injuries are characterized as lasting between three and six months. If an injury lasts any longer than six months, it is called chronic back pain. Chronic back pain from a workplace injury can keep you off your feet for an extended period and is sometimes permanent. If you are experiencing chronic pain because of a workplace injury like a slip and fall accident, you might be eligible for long-term disability benefits.
It’s essential to report any workplace injuries as soon as they occur, especially since back trauma can be so severe. Sometimes, back injuries are even responsible for a person’s permanent paralysis. Unfortunately, chronic back pain cases usually evolve over time, so you must be aware of how your body is feeling and disclose any bodily damage as soon as it’s discovered.
High-Risk Occupations Associated With Back Pain
People holding certain jobs are at an increased risk of experiencing a back injury in the workplace. If you’re involved in any of the following occupations, it’s crucial to take care of your back and the rest of your body to avoid any ongoing issues.
1. Construction Workers
It should come as no surprise that construction workers are at the top of this list. Construction is labor-intensive, and there are opportunities everywhere on a job site for employees to injure their backs. Between all the lifting, hauling, bending, walking, and other repetitive tasks, the strain on your back can become severe. There is also the possibility of falling off ladders or other structures, leading to a potentially permanent back injury. Construction accidents are a common cause of back injuries requiring workers’ compensation claims.
Nursing is another occupation that is known to breed debilitating back pain. Nurses are well-known for their work ethic, taking on long hours, and overnights. Unfortunately, this strong drive to care for patients leaves them on their feet for long periods, leading to an array of musculoskeletal afflictions and lasting back problems.
On top of the long hours, nurses are also responsible for much of the lifting and moving of patients, leading to back injuries in medical support staff. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates over 35,000 back and other injuries take nurses out of the workplace each year.
Back pain and injuries are a common affliction among landscapers, gardeners, and other outdoor laborers. These jobs are incredibly demanding, requiring bending, stooping, heavy lifting, and other repetitive motions day in and day out. All of these job-specific activities are often attributed to overuse back injuries.
4. Warehouse Workers
Working in a warehouse is a surefire way to wear down your spine, shoulders, and back over time. Bending, lifting, and carrying heavy boxes are all culprits of causing back pain. Overexertion is a serious issue among warehouse workers, so it’s essential to be aware of how your body feels and ask for help from employers if pain persists.
5. Public Service Officials
Don’t be surprised if you injure yourself in the line of duty as a public service worker. These occupations include:
- Police officers
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
There are many different ways to hurt your back during a shift as a public service official. It’s a dangerous job that involves many sudden movements. There’s also a high potential for falls and other physical injuries that cause back pain or more serious, permanent problems.
Dentists typically endure a lot of back issues as they spend their day hunched over patients cleaning and looking for cavities. Holding this position for an extended period can wreak havoc on a dentist’s back.
7. Doctors and Surgeons
Just like dentists, doctors and surgeons spend a lot of time on their feet or stooped over patients. Some surgeries can go on for over 24 hours, leaving surgeons standing still for hours on end with their shoulders hunched over. It’s no surprise back pain and shoulder injuries are so common among these professionals. Many medical care providers experience pain, numbness, and tingling in their neck, shoulders, and spine.
8. Office Workers
Everyone understands how awful an uncomfortable office chair is on your back. Of course, office workers who spend extensive hours sitting in unsupportive office chairs are more likely to be afflicted with back issues. Office workers also spend the majority of their day hunched over a keyboard, which can affect posture and cause more back problems.
9. Plumbers, Electricians, and Auto Mechanics
It might seem strange to group these three occupations together, but in reality, it makes total sense. Each job requires workers to maneuver small, awkward spaces and hold uncomfortable body positions for extended periods. These cramped positions can cause joint and back pain that takes plumbers, electricians, and auto mechanics out of the workplace.
10. Professional Drivers
Another notable profession involving staying in a seated position for prolonged periods is professional driving. Drivers who don’t take time to get out of their car or truck’s cab can experience severe, lasting chronic back pain over the course of their careers. Professional drivers can include:
- Long-haul truckers
- Delivery drivers
- Personal chauffeurs
- Taxi or rideshare drivers
- Waste services
- Maintenance and utility workers
What To Do When You Injure Your Back at Work
When you’re injured on the job, you might be tempted to keep it hidden so you don’t lose out on any wages. This is not a good idea, and it will almost certainly exacerbate your existing back issues. Instead, contact your employers and disclose your injuries and soon as possible. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, which typically includes:
- Wage replacement
- Medical benefits
If your employer lacks the proper insurance, they are violating the law. Filing a claim can be tedious and requires reports from doctors and tons of paperwork, too. To make sure the process goes smoothly, contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. They can help guide you through the claims process and get you the benefits you deserve after a back injury in the workplace.