One of the most frequently reported work injuries involves trauma to the soft tissues, including the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. These types of injuries are typically grouped under the umbrella label of strains and sprains. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace strains and sprains affect over 34,000 employees each year in the United States. Most of these injuries affect the back.
Since workplace strains and sprains are so common, employers and employees should learn about ways to reduce these injuries. Listed below are ways workplace strains and sprains can be reduced.
Ergonomically Correct Processes
Workers who perform tasks like transferring objects all day should be trained from day one on how to perform their jobs with the least stress on their bodies. Employers can reinforce smart, ergonomically correct movements through consistent workshops and reminders.
Improved Workplace Schematics
The layout of some workplaces makes it impossible for employees to effectively move without putting stress on their muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The solution to this issue is to re-design spaces for the highest possible human efficiency without putting employees at physical risk of injury.
Help With Devices and Equipment
Countless companies have begun to explore the use of mechanical devices to help workers perform their responsibilities safely. These include forklifts and even robotics that can fetch items from shelves and bring them to designated spots.
Wear Protective Gear
The right protective gear can help a worker engage more comfortably in job activities. One German manufacturer is even exploring the idea of protective gear that could serve as a kind of “exoskeleton” on a worker. With the exoskeleton in place, the worker would produce less effort to move from place to place.
Recognize Warning Signs
When diagnosed early, strains and sprains respond better to treatment. Workers may also be able to avoid surgery or long-term damage to their soft tissues if they understand how to spot problems, such as nagging discomfort or shooting pains. Injured employees also need to tell a supervisor about their health issue without worrying about the backlash.
Keep Work Areas Clean
No worker should slip on a wet floor or trip on ripped carpet while going downstairs. A spotless, sanitized, and maintained workplace helps employees perform their job duties without putting their health at risk.
What are the Leading Causes of Workplace Strains and Sprains?
Many employees have experienced a pulled muscle or hyperextended tendon. The feeling is usually painful, followed by limited mobility, tenderness, swelling, and redness. Workplace strains and sprains are generally caused by the following:
- Repetitive actions: Workers tend to perform the same actions over and over, especially in warehouses and manual labor environments. Over time, repetitive motions begin to wear down the part of the body doing the most work. For instance, a worker may begin to suffer debilitating lower back strain after years of lifting and twisting while moving heavy objects.
- Dangerous work environment: A dangerous work environment does not have to look ominous. Even a cluttered or dirty workplace can end up being dangerous because of the increased possibility of tripping or slipping. Strains and sprains can happen from sudden accidents or they can appear gradually over time.
- Poor ergonomics: Workers can develop injuries from sitting or standing for long periods of time each day. This means that an office worker who rarely picks up boxes could suffer serious neck and upper back strain from hunching all day at a desk.
- Lack of physical activity: Health can play a factor in whether a worker will be more prone to experiencing a strain or sprain. Employees who do not exercise, eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, or stay hydrated may put themselves at greater risk of a strain or sprain. For this reason, some employers actively introduce their workers to fitness programs and low-cost health care plans or free onsite vaccines and clinics.
How Much Time Off Do Workers Need to Heal From Strains and Sprains?
As with any type of workplace injury, a strain or sprain can be minor or severe. Workers’ Compensation exists to help employees pay for the costs of their medical care, as well as to compensate them during the healing process when they cannot work. The healing time of a strain or sprain varies. Some people only need a few days to fully recover. Others can spend months or years trying to get back to a sense of normalcy.
Strains and sprains can happen to all different types of employees, even if they work in places that follow strict prevention programs. If an employee has an injury, they should file a Workers’ Compensation claim. If they are wrongfully denied, they may want to contact a lawyer about their options.
Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Offer Legal Advice to Employees Suffering From Workplace Strains and Sprains
Workplace strains and sprains are common, but that does not mean that they cannot be serious. If you need help with benefits for a work injury, speak to one of our Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. today. Call us at 412-765-1888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.