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Workplace safety: An ergonomic program can prevent back injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes specific safety regulations for particular industries in New York and across the country. However, it also provides guidelines under a general duty clause to prevent injuries that can happen in any work environment. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says one such a general workplace safety risk is back injury, which makes up almost 20 percent of all reported occupational illnesses and injuries.

OSHA expects employers to provide workplaces that are free of known hazards, which includes ergonomic program implementation to prevent sprains and strains. Ergonomics is a science by which equipment, workspaces and jobs are designed to fit the worker. The agency says the cornerstone of ergonomic efficiency is back safety.

Painful and costly workplace injuries can be prevented by providing guidance and training in proper lifting and carrying techniques. This can prevent overstretched or overused muscles that cause strains, or sprains that are caused by torn ligaments. Another frequently reported back injury that follows improper lifting or load carrying is a herniated disk, which is the deterioration of cushioning between the vertebrae from age and strain.

OSHA says that although proper lifting techniques might limit the chances of back injuries, the general health of workers plays a vital role in workplace safety. Unhealthy and/or overweight workers are said to be more vulnerable when it comes to sprains and strains. Back injuries could cause long-term health problems that could lead to mounting medical bills and lost workdays. Financial relief is available through the New York workers' compensation insurance program, and legal counsel can assist with the navigation of benefits claims.

Source:, "Back Safety in the Workplace", Accessed on May 12, 2018

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