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Workplace injuries prevalent when frequent lifting is required

Industries nationwide, including in California, spend billions of dollars on workers' compensation claims for back-related injuries every year. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says one in five claims for workplace injuries involve back injuries. Records also show that the majority of back injuries are suffered during materials handling -- mainly lifting -- and three in four of these damage the lower backs of employees.

Safety advocates suggest some administrative controls could help limit these injuries. The suggestions include the testing of each worker's strength to avoid allocating jobs that exceed the power capabilities of employees. Furthermore, stretching programs to limit muscle strain risks are suggested, along with training in safe lifting techniques that will minimize lower back stress.

Engineering controls that could be helpful include reducing the weights and sizes of objects to be lifted, as well as ensuring parcels are compact and have handles. Positioning objects at levels above knee height and below shoulder height can also help the cause. When these conditions cannot be met, equipment such as conveyors and automated lifting equipment can be used.

Other factors to consider is the duration and frequency of lifting tasks along with the age, gender, health, physical fitness and body size of the individual. However, back-related workplace injuries will likely continue to occur. California workers may find comfort in knowing that they are entitled to workers' compensation benefits that will cover medical expenses and lost wages. Injured employees have the right to obtain the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney, which may be particularly helpful in cases in which employers dispute claims.

Source: umsl.edu, "OSHA Fact Sheet: Back Injuries", Accessed on July 29, 2017

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