Overexertion injuries generally fall into two categories:
- Sprains – stretching or tearing ligaments
- Strains – stretching or tearing tendons or muscles
These injuries have been associated with lifting, repeated bending at the waist with twisting, long-term bending at the waist, pushing/pulling, carrying, reaching and long-term poor posture (either sitting or standing).
Labor & Industries has helped us with some specific data for Washington retailers. It looks like this:
- One out of every four injuries in retail is from overexertion.
- The average cost of an overexertion claim is a little over $11,500.
- Overexertion claims represent about 37% of workers’ comp costs in retail.
- Lifting is the most frequently mentioned cause of overexertion, resulting in at least half of all injuries. Carrying was second, followed closely by pushing and pulling.
- ‘Boxes’ were the most frequent source of injury. Of the more specific items listed, ‘automotive parts’ was the most common.
- The back was clearly the most frequently injured part of the body. Shoulder injuries were a distant second.
To reduce overexertion:
- Stretch and/or warm up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity.
- Use a hand truck and carts as much as possible.
- Lift with your legs bent, keeping your back straight, and carrying items close to your body.
- When lifting, avoid bending, overreaching and twisting.
- For those unusually sized items, get help when lifting.
Proper posture, body mechanics and ergonomics can lessen overexertion injuries. Because it is important that the demands of the job match the capabilities of the worker, extra training may be required to perform a job safely.
WR employs Rick Means as Director of Safety and Education who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected]