It turns out there is reason to be concerned about working too hard. Liberty Mutual Insurance has long published a workplace safety index that lists the top causes of disabling workplace injuries. Topping the list for many years has been overexertion.
In its 2020 report, Liberty Mutual states that overexertion accounts for nearly 25% of all on-the-job injuries and costs employers $13.98 billion. For clarity, Liberty Mutual defines overexertion as working beyond one’s physical capabilities. It says the overexertion category includes injuries involving pushing, pulling, carrying, holding or throwing objects.
Who is at risk? (hint: everyone)
While overexertion can occur on any job, the Department of Labor states that certain workers are at higher risk. The list includes workers in health care, construction, trucking, and warehouse and retail.
It is good for both employers and employees to be aware of which jobs have a high risk of overexertion so that tactics to prevent these injuries can be part of training and everyday practices. Workers should also be aware of what injuries may be compensable under Wisconsin’s Workers’ Compensation Act.
The National Safety Council offers these tips for preventing overexertion injuries:
- Plan before you lift, keeping you back straight and lifting with your legs.
- Limit the amount of time you spend doing the same repetitive motion.
- Take frequent breaks from any sustained position every 20 to 30 minutes.
- If you work at a desk, move frequently used items close to you, use a footrest and adjust the height of your computer.
- Report pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, tenderness, clicking or loss of strength to a doctor before they become a full-blown injury.
Overexertion accident happen
Despite any safety protocols or procedures, accidents are inevitable–entitling workers to benefits to help them recover. For a registered nurse or CNA at a hospital, there may be guidelines for lifting/assisting patients, but those go out the window when trying to prevent a patient fro
m falling! The same can be true in a packaging distribution center when, despite the generic job duty description indicating limited repetitive reaching, the employer indicates a need to move rapidly to meet quotas or demands. Indeed, the best laid plans for safety cannot prevent every overexertion injury.
Protect your rights when injuries happen
Even with proper preventative measures, work-related injuries occur. Overexertion injuries may lead to a worker’s inability to continue to complete the responsibilities of his or her job. It is important to work closely with a knowledgeable Wisconsin workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your rights.