What are the reasons for a back injury at work?
Each year hundreds of workers from across the US file for workers’ compensation owing to back injuries which were caused by lifting heavy objects. Interestingly there is no federal regulation which governs how much weight a worker should lift; how often should they lift it and by what age should they stop lifting. That’s why it is the employer who is responsible for coming up with their own guidelines which should be meant to protect workers from getting injured.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety has created numerous guidelines including a lifting equation that employers can use to draft their policies. The equation takes several factors into account like the worker’s body, their hand positioning, the duration as well as the frequency of the lifting tasks.
The most common causes of back injuries at work happen to be twisting or overextension of the spine when lifting, pushing, pulling heavy weight or using poor posture when sitting for a long time. More severe and often permanent can stem from falls from high places.
Common injuries include:
- Pinched nerves
- Lower back strain
- Spinal cord damage
- Fractured vertebrae
Most common injuries
What to expect in the way of back injury compensation?
When you first report the back injury to your employer, they will give you a list of approved physicians. You will then have to visit them and get approval from there before your compensation claim can proceed. The doctor will determine the extent of your back injury, ascertain its cause and provide treatment.
Workers’ Compensation law provides those who end up suffering from back injuries and other issues with compensation. The compensation extends to the extent where it covers various expenses so that the affected person can recover and return to work.
Compensation usually includes:
- Payment of all medical expenses associated with the back injury. All aspects of their treatment like doctors’ visits, medical bills, and even surgery is covered.
- Workers with back injuries will receive two-thirds of their weekly pay until they are able to resume work. Though it's up to the doctor to determine if a person is well enough to continue working.
- If the person is unable to resume working at their previous position the compensation covers training them for another job.
What to do after you experience a back injury?
All injured workers are fully entitled to getting workers’ compensation based on the extent of their back injury. The benefits cover medical expenses, out of pocket expenses, cost of transportation, etc. However, it is imperative that if the injury happened at your place of work that it is reported right away, after which you should seek medical treatment.
If the supervisor wants to call 911 or get the company’s nurse to take a look at your back, don’t stop them. Resisting treatment or an examination can make the condition worse. The same goes for waiting to file for compensation which reduces your chances of getting it.
If you have incurred a back injury make sure that you follow the steps below. Though the exact steps you need to follow may differ based on where you are located.
- You will have to file an incident report which details what and how the injury to your back was caused. In some cases, your supervisor may need to fill out the report as you answer a couple of questions.
- You will also be required to visit a doctor who is approved by the company or the insurance provider. That way there is documentary medical evidence of your injury and the insurance provider can cover the expenses.
- If it was an accident which caused the back injury, you may want to take photos as proof. Though it may not always be necessary.
|Back injury claim calculator|
|A moderate to severe injury to the back||$13000 to $30000|
|An Extreme back injury||$30000 to $160000|
|A mild back injury||Up to $13000|
|Note: All figures mentioned are approximates. Even if they are good in one jurisdiction, they may not be appropriate in another. And the facts of your situation may make these figures inappropriate for you. They are for informational purposes only.||-|
|Who can apply for compensation?|
Anyone who has a back injury which they think was caused by a work-related task.
An employee who has been hit by a machine or item at work causing damage to their back.
An employee whose back is the victim of inadequate safety gear which lead to an injury.
A chronic back issue which was caused by regular work-related tasks.