Back injuries


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Back injuries

  1. 1. Risk ControlBack Injuries: Risk Factors and PreventionIntroductionAccording to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the average direct cost (medical and indemnity)of a low back injury claim is $15,500. In California, the average cost of a back injury claim in 2002 was$47,938! These costs do not reflect the additional indirect costs of an injury, such as production downtime,administrative expense, employee retraining, and quality issues. Back injuries are disruptive. They can bepainful and costly. But they don’t have to be. Back injuries are preventable.Risk FactorsA number of personal and occupational factors contribute to the potential for back injuries. Personal factorsinclude poor physical fitness and lack of exercise, poor posture, psychosocial factors, lifestyle choices, such assmoking and poor diet/nutrition, stress and prior back problems. Age also can be a contributing factor.Degeneration of the spine, due to aging, can be a major contributor to lower back injuries. However, someresearch studies indicate that most back injury claims are made by people ages 25 to 45. Occupational factorsinclude heavy lifting, awkward lifting positions, repetitive lifting, overexertion, prolonged sitting, poor ergonomicworkplace design and other issues such as vibrations, temperature extremes and slippery walking surfaces.Risk Control ProgramA comprehensive back injury prevention program can help companies effectively control the potential riskfactors and costs of back injuries. Best practice programs include employee education, including educationabout the anatomy of the back, identification and control of job risk factors, instruction in proper posture andsafe lifting techniques and safe work practices.Personal Behavior StrategiesEmployees can do many things in their personal lives to help reduce the likelihood of back injury. Theseinclude:• Maintaining good posture in all activities, including standing, sitting, driving and sleeping.• Strengthening abdominal muscles through exercise.• Getting adequate rest.• Reducing tension and stress.• Exercising regularly.Helpful Lifting StrategiesLifting strategies can help employees avoid putting undue strain or stress on their back muscles or spine.Recommended techniques include:• Thinking through the lift before beginning.• Bending knees. Using the legs, not the back, for the lift.• Keeping the natural “S” curve in the back throughout the lift.• Grasping the load firmly.
  2. 2. Page 2Risk Control• Keeping the object close to the body during the lift.• Carrying objects close to the stomach.• Lifting with a smooth, controlled motion.• Moving feet to make turns. Not twisting the back to turn.• Knowing limits and asking for help, if needed.Safe Work PracticesInstructing employees in safe work practices also can help reduce the likelihood for back injury. Some goodpractices include:• Limiting load sizes when possible.• Using mechanical lifting equipment rather than manual lifting when possible.• Planning ahead and laying out the job. Providing appropriate space for materials to be handled, good access and good walking surfaces around lay-down areas.• Controlling housekeeping. Picking up trash or discarding materials.You Can Help Make A DifferenceYou are in the best position to educate and train your employees about back injury prevention. Help them tounderstand how their backs work and how to prevent back injury through:• Teaching about back anatomy.• Teaching importance of personal factors in back health and injury.• Providing material handling aids and user training.• Training on safe lifting techniques and work practices.• Providing a safe work environment, including good working and walking surfaces, free of items that could cause them to slip or stumble and good ergonomic work design.For more information, visit our Web site at, contact your RiskControl consultant or email ..................................................... The information provided in this document is intended for use as a guideline and is not The Travelers Indemnity Company intended as, nor does it constitute, legal or professional advice. Travelers does not warrant and its property casualty affiliates that adherence to, or compliance with, any recommendations, best practices, checklists, or One Tower Square guidelines will result in a particular outcome. In no event will Travelers or any of its Hartford, CT 06183 subsidiaries or affiliates be liable in tort or in contract to anyone who has access to or uses this information. Travelers does not warrant that the information in this document constitutes a complete and finite list of each and every item or procedure related to the topics or issues referenced herein. Furthermore, federal, state or local laws, regulations, standards or codes may change from time to time and the reader should always refer to the most current requirements. This material does not amend, or otherwise affect, the provisions or coverages of any insurance policy or bond issued by Travelers, nor is it a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy or bond. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, and any applicable law. © 2008 The Travelers Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Doc#: 108