Broderick Law Firm, LLC

Back Injuries on the Job

back injury at work

Many work injuries are common to certain industries or types of work. However, back injuries occur in a wide range of industries and job roles. Unfortunately, these injuries not only occur across many fields, but can also create short or long term limitations that interfere with a variety of types of work.

In other words, a back injury can create employment limitations or trigger a need for accommodations not just for those in heavy labor industries such as warehousing and construction, but also in retail, restaurant and hospitality work, and in some cases even office work.

Common Causes of Back Injury

Most people know that back injuries can be caused by heavy lifting, especially with improper technique. Falls and other jarring accidents like a motor vehicle collision can also cause both minor and serious back injuries. But, the possibilities for hurting your back on the job are much more extensive.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the most common contributing factors to back problems include:

  • Poor posture or body mechanics
  • Poor design of workstations
  • Bending for extended periods
  • Poor footing
  • Heavy lifting or lifting with great force
  • Reaching, twisting, or bending while lifting
  • Repetitive lifting, particularly of awkward items
  • Fatigue
  • Poor physical condition
  • Exposure to vibration

Safety Precautions in the Workplace

Taking precautions against back injuries in the workplace is beneficial to both employees and employers. While the benefit to the worker who escapes injury is obvious, it may not be so readily apparent why an employer would want to invest in these safety measures. However, back injuries cost employers a significant amount of money each year. In part, the cost is attributable to workers’ compensation and disability payments. But, a significant percentage is also attributable to lost productivity. This decline in productivity occurs when employees miss work, but also when employees who are suffering from back injuries work inefficiently due to pain, constrained range of motion, or medical limitations.

Some of the most effective ways to avoid injuries in the workplace include:

  • Training in safe performance of job duties, such as safe lifting techniques and equipment usage
  • Consistent and proper use of appropriate safety gear and equipment
  • Avoidance of per hour quotas or other work requirements that may come in conflict with safety restrictions such as maximum lifting capacity, two-person lifting, and use of techniques that are safer but may be less efficient

Workers’ Compensation and Back Injuries

As you can see, back injuries in the workplace may occur because the employer has done something wrong, such as failing to provide appropriate safety equipment or requiring workers to lift materials that are too heavy to be safely lifted by a single person. On the other hand, a back injury in the workplace may be caused by the worker’s own failure to follow safety precautions, such as safe lifting practices. In some cases, the worker’s poor physical condition may lead to an injury in a situation where a stronger and healthier person might not have been injured.

The good news is that in a workers’ compensation case, none of that matters. With very limited exceptions, injuries that occur in the course of employment are covered, regardless of fault. That means that the injured worker does not need to prove that the employer was negligent, failed to provide adequate instruction, failed to provide safety equipment, or was otherwise responsible for the injury. At the same time, the worker is generally entitled to compensation even if he was wholly or partly responsible for his own injury. 

That simplifies the process of pursuing compensation and generally means that the injured worker can get access to coverage for medical care and replacement income much more quickly than in a traditional personal injury case. But, that doesn’t mean that you can assume that your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier will always play fair and provide full compensation. Back injuries are particularly tricky because it may be difficult to predict exactly how limited the injured person may be, or whether that limitation will be permanent. Like all insurance carriers, workers’ compensation carriers want to minimize the amount they are required to payout.

So, if you have suffered a serious back injury on the job, your doctor says that you may have lingering pain and limitations, you question the doctor’s recommendations, or you are encountering other problems with your workers’ compensation claim, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer right away.

Attorney Kevin P. Broderick helps people who have been injured on the job in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. You can schedule a free consultation right now by calling 978-459-1792 or filling out the contact form on this page.

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The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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