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Preventing Sprains and Strains in the Workplace

Did you know that sprains and strains remain the most common workplace injuries in the United States? But that is not all, according to workers’ compensation data; these injuries to muscles and connective tissues are the top accident category for both frequency and severity. That information tells us that sprains and strains are typical in the workplace today.

Sprains and strains are some of the most common injuries reported among employees, with overexertion being the leading cause of injury. Sprains and strains can occur from improper lifting, pushing, pulling, overexertion, and performing repetitive motions or micro-tasks. These nonfatal injuries require days away from the job in order for the worker to recover.

What is a strain? Strains are injuries that involve the stretching or tearing of muscle and tendons. Strains often occur from over use, prolonged use, and repetitive movement of muscles or tendons as well as from direct blows to the body. A strain may be a simple stretch in your muscle or tendon, or it may be a partial or complete tear in the muscle-and-tendon. The most common strains occur to the back, neck and hamstrings.

What is a sprain? Sprains are injuries that involve the stretching or tearing of tissue that connects bone to bone, which help provide stability. A sprain is caused by direct or indirect trauma (such as a fall) that knocks a joint out of position and over stretches or ruptures ligaments. Sprains are most common in knees, ankles, & wrists.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that back injuries (related to strains) are the number one workplace safety problem. One out of every five workplace illnesses and injuries involve the back. Their survey revealed that 80% of the back injuries occurred to the lower back and that three out of four back injuries occurred while workers were lifting an object. In addition, the average cost of a back injury to an employer or their insurance carrier in California is $54,980 (as reported by the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau on June 29, 2016).

Disclaimer: The information and resources provided herein are not a substitute for experienced legal counsel and does not constitute legal advice or attempt to address the numerous factual issues that inevitably arise in any employment-related dispute. Although this information attempts to cover some major recent developments, it is not all-inclusive, and any recommendations are based upon HR best practices and procedures. We recommend you consult an attorney for legal guidance.

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