Overexertion injuries: They’re not only the most common type of injury, they’re also the most expensive, making up 25.7% of all workers’ comp claims nationwide.
That’s the conclusion of a 2007 study that was just released by Liberty Mutual, one of the nation’s largest workers’ comp providers.
The problem with overexertion injuries which include strains and sprains related to lifting, pushing or pulling is that there’s no single surefire solution.
Sure, investing in lifting machines can make a difference. So can training on how to lift properly.
But for most companies, it’s a constant battle.
Here are some ideas that can help:
- Train workers to evaluate jobs. Chances are you’ve already studied the majority of tasks in your workplace to reduce heavy loads or the need for awkward positions. Take it a step farther and teach workers to evaluate tasks on their own. That way they’ll be less likely to strain themselves doing something that’s not a regular part of the daily work process.
- Require workers to take breaks. One study at Ohio State University found that workers who lift for a living need to take longer or more frequent breaks than they currently do to avoid back injury. Workers who weren’t taking frequent breaks were especially at risk for back injury at the end of the day when their back muscles were fatigued. Workers are more productive when they’re not tired, so allowing short, frequent breaks can increase productivity, rather than slowing it down.
- Encourage early reporting. Early treatment for strains and sprains can help workers recover faster. It also helps avoid recurring injuries.
For more information, click here, and then click on 2008 Workplace Safety Index (requires Adobe Acrobat).