What are the real causes of workplace back injuries?

As you probably know, back injuries are among the most common causes of employee disability in California. Your spine is a complex system of bones, ligaments and discs, and it is highly susceptible to damage under certain circumstances. However, the cause that seems most obvious to you may not be the only factor in a back injury. 

In fact, back injuries are quite frequently due in part to small stresses that accrue damage over time. Even if you see someone injured during a catastrophic accident, such as a fall or an improper lift, the resulting acute injury might have been made possible by various chronic stressors. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Technical Manual section on back injuries contains several techniques your employer could perform to avoid creating an unsafe work environment. Some jobs do carry the risk of injury, but it is often your employer's responsibility to minimize the incidence of these events. The OTM also contains some of the most common factors that could aggravate a back injury you sustained:

  • Slippery floor surfaces
  • Excessive vibration
  • Poorly engineered work areas
  • Extreme tiredness

Most of the items listed in the OTM might seem relatively innocuous to you. However, it is the long-term exposure to these types of workplace stresses that contributes to the occurrence of back injuries in you and your coworkers. There are certain measures you could take to reduce your risk, such as maintaining good posture or exercising outside of work. However, it is up to your employer to provide a healthy work environment by minimizing the factors contributing to back injury when possible.

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