To one degree or another, all jobs carry a certain amount of risk. However, certain occupations have a much higher chance of serious work-related injuries, especially to the neck and back. This type of injury is no small matter. Injured employees deal not just with pain and suffering but missed work and lost wages as well. In fact, sometimes the injured employee must transfer to a different job or change or restrict work activities because of the injury. How at risk are you?
A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, in 2003, over 4 million workers experienced occupational illnesses and injuries. Of those, almost 900,000 were back pain-related, and over 50 percent of those injured missed time at work at an average of at least three workdays — or they had to restrict or change their job duties due to their injury and pain.
Who is most at risk?
By far, experts found that the two occupations most at risk for back and neck injury were the fields of nursing and construction work. In both careers, employees tended to under-report work-related injury, sometimes because they felt they could not afford to take time off or, even worse, for fear that they would lose their jobs.
Nurses and nursing home staff are at a high risk for spine injuries and back pain, due mainly to the frequency of tasks requiring physical exertion, including transferring patients from beds to baths and toilets. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that almost 80 percent of back injuries were a result of the lifting, pulling, carrying and holding required for such work tasks.
Over 30 percent of employees at construction sites miss time at work due to strains or sprains to the back and neck incurred on the job. Construction workers spend a high amount of time on the job bending, lifting and carrying, and the repetitive movements required on these job sites frequently lead to overuse injuries. Additionally, many employees on construction sites are at a high risk for falling from scaffolding and ladders, which can lead to serious and even life-threatening spine injuries.
Other risky professions
While employees in the construction and nursing fields are most at risk for neck and back injury, other occupations with a higher likelihood of such injuries include:
- Warehouse workers
Even professions that you may not immediately think of can carry a higher-than-average risk for back injury and pain. These include assembly line workers, EMTs, carpenters, airline baggage handlers, and employees who spend much of their time at work sitting, such as bus and cab drivers or office personnel like telemarketers or file clerks.
What can you do?
Changing your career to avoid back pain or the risk of injury probably isn’t a realistic option. However, there are certain things you can do to help prevent neck and back injury, like researching ergonomics and workplace safety. If, though, you have already experienced a neck or back injury at work, you shouldn’t have to suffer in silence for fear of losing your job or lose wages due to your work-related illness.
Every injury is different, and it can sometimes be confusing to know whether you’re entitled to workers’ compensation. A Minnesota workers’ comp attorney can help you understand your legal rights in cases of work-related illness or injury. A lawyer can also help you fight for the benefits to which you are entitled so that you can concentrate on getting better without worrying about job loss or medical expenses.