For workers in warehouses and fulfillment centers in Kansas, back injuries are likely par for the course. If you earn your income in this industry, you might be wise to learn as much as possible about the prevention of back injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to protect the health and safety of employees, and to do this, they must address any known safety hazards.
Unfortunately, many long-term back injuries develop over time, and proving it work-related could be challenging. It is not uncommon for employers to question claims for workers' compensation benefits if there is not a particular incident that caused the injury.
Frequent causes of back injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says a significant percentage of workers' compensation claims arise from back injuries. You might be at risk if your job requires you to do any of the following:
- Frequent lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying and placing of heavy or awkwardly shaped objects
- Lifting too heavy objects without help
- Practicing unsafe lifting techniques
- Twisting your body while lifting or moving heavy objects
- Repetitive lifting
Learning to use your leg muscles instead of your back muscles when you lift objects might prevent back injuries.
Mitigating back injury risks
You and your employer can take precautions to mitigate back injuries by establishing the following controls:
- Eliminating the need for physical lifting: Using forklifts or low mobile platforms known as dollies to transport bulky loads can eliminate the need for you to lift heavy objects physically. Another option might be to separate large, heavy objects into smaller parts so that are less bulky and safe to lift.
- Establishing administrative controls: Discuss lift limits that will not exceed your physical abilities with your employer. Establish a buddy-system rule by which two workers lift loads that exceed safe limits.
- Set up engineering controls: Ergonomically friendly work areas that accommodate the limitations of workers can limit back injuries. This could include conveyor belts, lifting devices and shelves in storage areas to keep objects within reach of all workers to prevent dangerous lifts.
- Inappropriate personal protective equipment: There is no proof that back belts and other supports prevent back injuries. Instead, you might have a false sense of safety when you lift heavy objects while wearing a back belt. Using safe lifting techniques have proved to be more effective.
Remember that you are entitled to a safe work environment, and you have the right to refuse to lift objects that are beyond your physical capabilities.
Know your workers' compensation rights
If you report any work-related injury to your employer as soon as possible, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost income if your injuries caused temporary disability. The claims process might be daunting, and an experienced Kansas workers' compensation attorney can assist throughout the administrative and legal proceedings.