To employers and insurance companies, everything is about the bottom line. If something costs them a lot of money, it gets all the attention. Recently, what’s been getting attention is how much workplace overexertion injuries are costing companies in workers’ comp claims across the country. Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index calculates that overexertion and bodily reaction injuries cost employers over $12.8 billion yearly.
What does that mean to the average worker? It means you are most likely to be injured on the job by overexertion and that it will take time and lots of medical intervention to overcome. The cost also means that your claim is likely to be disputed and delayed as your employer tries to save money. We see these injuries all the time in our office, and we are happy to talk to you about how we can help with your claim.
What Causes Overexertion and Bodily Reaction Injuries?
These musculoskeletal injuries are caused by several types of workplace activities, which are common across many industries. The National Safety Council (NSC) describes the following injury events as the primary causes of overexertion and bodily reaction injuries.
Excessive Physical Force
Overexertion usually refers to a non-impact injury resulting from excessive physical force such as lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, carrying, or throwing. These injuries can be cumulative, meaning they occur after years of performing physical work. Like our client Jerry, who worked as a stone mason for over 30 years, overexertion injuries often affect the back and neck.
Performing the same small motor task repeatedly imposes stress and strain on certain body parts—typically the hands, wrists, and arms. While there is rarely a strenuous effort connected to the injury, it can still be debilitating. Workers who type or use a mouse or tools that require repetitive motions, such as screwdrivers, knives, musical instruments, or medical tools, are prone to these injuries. Our client Heidi worked for years assembling windows and screens at Marvin’s, and the repetitive use of her hands took its toll!
Single Free Body Motion
It is also common for someone to be injured in a one-off incident, such as bending over, reaching for something, twisting or turning quickly, and kneeling or crawling. Our client Dennis, who worked at Honda for 31 years, herniated several discs pulling a frame while working on the motorcycle assembly line. He was off work for a year and required six months of physical therapy.
Who Suffers the Most Overexertion Injuries?
Anyone from a lawyer sitting at a desk to a construction worker lifting I-beams can suffer an overexertion or bodily reaction injury, so really, no one is safe. According to the NSC, these injuries are usually sprains, strains, and tears affecting the shoulders, back, and knees.
Service-providing industries account for 78 percent of these injuries, and goods-producing industries make up the other 22 percent. Workers who are the most at risk and the tasks that often lead to injury include the following.
Warehouse and Material Handlers
- Frequent lifting, bending, and carrying of heavy boxes and pallets
- Prolonged periods of standing and walking
- Operating machinery such as forklifts and conveyor belts
Nurses and Healthcare Workers
- Manual patient lifting and transferring
- Frequent bending and twisting while providing patient care
- Long hours of standing and walking
Delivery and Truck Drivers
- Loading and unloading heavy cargo
- Long hours of sitting and driving
- Handling and securing loads, often in adverse weather conditions
- Repetitive assembly line tasks
- Operating heavy machinery and tools
- Frequent lifting and moving of raw materials and finished products
- Lifting and moving inventory
- Long hours of standing and walking
- Repetitive scanning, packing, and cashiering tasks
Restaurant Kitchen Staff
- Standing for long hours
- Frequent bending and lifting of heavy pots and pans
- Repetitive chopping, slicing, and cooking motions
If you have suffered a sprain, strain, or tear or have been struggling with any type of chronic pain, it’s time to get a thorough medical exam and a proper diagnosis to see if you have a work-related overexertion injury. Contact our office in Arlington to find out how we might help.