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Good intentions don’t prevent back injury

Good intentions. On the surface, these two words sound positive and demonstrate a willingness to help. Then reality rears its ugly head and good intentions are exposed or what it really is—a back injury waiting to happen.

back injury while lifting
It only takes 35 lbs of push/pull force to cause back injury and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Take the case of Mike (not his real name). Mike was the manager and a mechanic for an engine repair business. He finished the repairs on an industrial pressure cleaner. Being service-minded, Mike thought nothing of helping lift the pressure cleaner into the customer’s van. The customer’s two employees had the heavy end with Mike doing the “steadying” in the back.

The two helpers placed the front of the machine into the van. Their intent was to help Mike in pushing it completely inside the van. Unfortunately, no one secured the front wheels of the machine, leaving it free to roll back. Mike reacted instinctively, bracing to hold the machine, which weighed just over 231 lbs.

While successful in preventing the cleaning machine from falling, Mike felt pain and a burning sensation in his back. He went home thinking rest would help, but wound up at the doctor’s office the next day. His doctor attempted several treatments to heal Mike’s back. However, none worked. Mike’s diagnosis was a back injury from a protruding disc putting pressure on nerves in his spine.

Mike’s good intentions left him unable to work, resigning from his job at the engine repair business and another job he had on the side. Left with a back injury preventing the ability to work, Mike decided legal action was the only course left. He sued the engine repair business, claiming the business shirked its responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

Good intentions of the employer

Understandably, the owner of the engine repair business claimed the accident should not have happened because the business provided ergonomic alternatives to lifting heavy objects. The owner explained a forklift, qualified operator and ramps were available to aid in moving heavy items. There was no reason for Mike or anyone else to lift the pressure cleaner manually. The owner’s good intentions did not prevent the back injury . . . or the judge’s ruling.

The court acknowledged that alternatives were available. However, without a safety system, procedures or instructions in place ensuring compliance, the court ruled against the business to the tune of $1.3 million.

Good intentions provide no relief for a back injury

The story is filled with good intentions—none of which prevented Mike’s back injury or the financial loss of the business. Nobody wins when employees are injured on the job. Some like Mike, received large amounts of money as compensation but live in pain for the rest of their lives. However, the employer ALWAYS loses in every worker-related injury scenario.

According to a study by Liberty Mutual Insurance, the nation’s largest worker compensation insurance provider, worker injury costs employers $13.4 billion annually.

We put together a special report titled, “Impact of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.” This report explains how exerting only 35 lbs of push/pull force can cause musculoskeletal injuries. The report also defines musculoskeletal disorders; the causes of this type of injury; its application to workplace prevention; the cost of musculoskeletal injuries; and how you can prevent these costs from having an impact on the company’s P&L.

Request your free copy of the “Impact of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.” Don’t have good intentions to request yours. Contact us today!

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