Lifting Injuries at Work - Symptoms and How Employers should be Protecting Their Staff

in Law

Lifting injuries at work are caused either by sudden physical trauma, or cumulative strain over a period of time. Studies have found that up to a third of all major injuries in the workplace are caused by manual handling, the most common and dangerous forms of which are heavy and repetitive lifting. The majority of lifting injuries involve damage to the lumbar region of the lower back. Even a partially torn muscle in this area can be a debilitating injury, requiring weeks of recuperation. More serious lifting injuries, including slipped discs and fractured vertebrae, as well as long-term conditions, such as scoliosis and sciatica, can cause ongoing weakness in the back, or progressive loss of strength and mobility. Damage to the spinal cord meanwhile can have very severe consequences, including paralysis and disability.

While a high percentage of lifting injuries at work affect the lower back, the upper back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands may also be damaged by heavy or repetitive lifting. Lifting at work is furthermore the number one cause of inguinal hernias, where a weakness in the abdomen muscle causes a lump to appear in the groin region. Hernias always require surgery, due to complications that may arise if they are left unattended. These include possible obstruction of the bowel, and the potential for an inguinal hernia to develop into a strangulated hernia, cutting off the blood supply to the surrounding area, and triggering a medical emergency. With hernias there is also the constant risk of recurrence, and in many instances this will prevent workers from carrying out heavy or repetitive lifting in the future.

Many factors can increase the risk of lifting injuries in the workplace. Apart from being required to lift excessive weights, workers may also have to lift loads in cramped, confined spaces, or in a high pressure working environment, where safety issues are over-looked. Mental stress increases the likelihood of lifting injuries, as the body’s muscles are in a continual state of tension. Employers must provide workers with training in safe manual handling techniques, as well as giving them the necessary protective equipment, aimed at preventing lifting injuries, including back braces and weight belts. Management must also ensure that all work is properly risk assessed, and that the workplace itself, and work equipment in use, is ergonomically designed to offer workers the best possible protection.  

Industries with the highest incidence rates of lifting injuries among workers, are those where heavy and repetitive lifting tasks place on a daily basis, including construction, manufacturing and nursing. Nurses and carers regularly suffer lifting injuries, normally due to the cumulative amount of weight they have handled in the course of a busy shift. Otherwise injuries may develop over time, and many nurses are ultimately forced to leave the profession due to long-term work related back problems. Supermarket and warehouse workers engaged in unloading pallets and stacking shelves face similar risks, as do postal workers and delivery drivers. Lifting injuries may persist for months or years, or ultimately cause a permanent disability. Financial hardship resulting from loss of earnings is also common following moderate to severe lifting injuries, and this is taken into account when calculating how much compensation an injured worker may be due.

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Harry Marldon has 35 articles online

Harry Marldon says that claiming compensation for an injury cause by lifting at work is a common legal request for workers involved in warehouse and factory places of work. Compensation for a back injury at work is available to employees that can no longer work due to the work accidents they may have been involved in.

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Lifting Injuries at Work - Symptoms and How Employers should be Protecting Their Staff

This article was published on 2012/03/31