Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Back injuries make up 20 percent of on-the-job injuries

Every member of the Minnesota workforce is exposed to injury hazards, regardless of his or her occupation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that one in five reported workplace injuries nationwide every year involve back injuries. Workers in all industries can injure their backs while lifting objects that are too heavy, or even by repetitive lifting of objects of any size or weight. Twisting the body while lifting objects can also cause back injuries, and one of the best precautions is to use the leg muscles instead of the back muscles when lifting objects.

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of workers, and they can use various control systems to prevent back injuries, the first of which is to eliminate the need for workers to lift heavy objects manually. Forklifts, pallet jacks, dollies and conveyor belts can be used, or heavy loads can be broken down into smaller, lighter objects. Ergonomically friendly work environments with easily accessible shelves and storage can prevent back injuries.

Employers can also establish buddy systems and limit the weight one worker may lift. Anything heavier must then be lifted with the help of a buddy. Furthermore, the physical capabilities of workers should be considered before tasks are allocated. Some employers provide back belts or other back supports, but safety authorities say those devices do not prevent back injuries and could give the workers a false sense of security while lifting objects that are too heavy.

Minnesota workers who have to cope with the financial consequences of work-related back injuries might have questions about his or her rights to workers' compensation benefits. An attorney with experience in this field of the law can assist with the navigation of benefits claims. The state-regulated insurance program typically covers medical expenses and benefits might include a financial package to make up for lost wages.

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