If you think that you’re safe from orthopedic injuries just because you have a cozy desk job, think again. Orthopedic workplace injuries can happen anywhere and at any moment. A workers’ comp orthopedic injury is defined as an injury that affects the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons due to trauma.
You’re in danger of overexertion, slips, and falls whether you work in a construction site or an office.
Looking at the top causes of the most disabling workplace injuries, you’ll see that they have one thing in common. They all require a visit or at least a referral to an orthopedic doctor sooner or later. The direct costs for these injuries add up to 47.3 billion dollars in 2019 alone.
While your workers’ compensation doctor can help you if you get injured, it’s better to avoid injuries in the first place. Awareness is the first step to prevention so let’s look at some of the common types of orthopedic injury you can sustain at work.
The most common workplace injury is trauma due to overexertion. This happens when you push your body beyond their normal physical boundaries. The injury can be acute or due to a gradual buildup of stress on the body.
There are two types of injuries due to overexertion and bodily reaction: non-impact and repetitive motion.
These happen when you apply excessive physical effort while working on a task. You can get hurt while lifting, carrying, throwing, pushing, holding, or turning.
Back injuries are the most commonly reported and are usually due to improper lifting. This is why companies should train and educate their employees on how to perform these functions in a safe way. Make sure that you’re using the correct posture, form, and techniques when doing any kind of physical activity.
Fatigue is also a big contributing factor to these types of injuries. Even if you’ve done a certain task a million times, there’s a high chance to make mistakes and get hurt if you’re tired. Know the limits of your body and take breaks when necessary.
Even if you have a job that doesn’t involve strenuous physical undertakings, you’re still at risk for repetitive strain injuries. Doing the same movement over and over can cause damage to the muscles, nerves, and tendons of a particular body part.
Overuse results in a buildup of stress and can increase your chance of injury. While the harm it causes may not be apparent at the beginning, you’re going to feel a pain that worsens over time.
A classic example of repetitive motion disorder is carpal tunnel syndrome. You can get this if your job involves sitting in front of a computer, typing and using the mouse for hours. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a long-term issue if ignored and untreated.
You’re also susceptible to tendonitis or bursitis if you’re doing the same action repeatedly, for example, while working in an assembly line.
The best thing you can do to avoid these types of injuries is to take periodic breaks. It’s also important to report to your doctor if you’re experiencing pain or numbness from doing any form of repetitive movement. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent long-term complications and disabilities.
Inadvertent contact with objects and equipment is a common cause of injuries in the workplace. If you’re not careful, you could suffer from lacerations, fractures, and even amputations. If you work in an environment that has a lot of hazardous elements, such as tools and heavy machinery, there’s a higher risk of traumatic incidents.
Some of the situations that could inflict bodily harm include:
getting hit by a moving object
being pushed onto, bumping into, or stepping on an object
part of a worker’s body getting caught in-between two stationary or moving objects. This can lead to crushing, pinching, squeezing, or compression injuries.
being stuck under or trapped by a collapsing structure or equipment
friction, pressure, or vibration from an object
To prevent falling victim to these kinds of accidents, always follow the safety regulations in place. Wear safety equipment such as hard hats, gloves, and steel-toe shoes. Store heavy objects in a location where they are guarded against falling off. Lastly, always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings so you can avoid these hazards.
Slips, trips, and falls make up a big chunk of work-related injuries. Employees who are at greater risk are those who work in healthcare, food services, or construction.
Falls, trips, and slips can happen in any setting, even if you work from home. You can slip on a spilled drink or fall over from your chair if you lean back a little too far. You can trip on extension cords, broken flooring, or protruding objects.
Embarrassment and a bruised ego are the least of your worries after a mishap. There’s a high chance of sustaining serious injuries such as wrist and arm fracture or shoulder dislocation. If you roll your ankle as you slip, the damage can range from a sprain or strain to a complete fracture.
There are also types of injuries called reaction injuries that are indirectly caused by trips, falls, and slips. These are caused by sudden stress on a part of your body as your body reacts to the incident. For example, after a slip, your knee might be twisted awkwardly causing a meniscus tear. Or as you try to catch yourself from falling, you might pull the muscles of your neck and back.
To prevent these injuries from happening, you need to always be mindful of your surroundings. Focus on whatever you’re doing and avoid distractions such as looking at your phone.
If you see potential hazards, report them quickly to your supervisor or to human resources. You can also bring up some unsafe situations or practices to realize change. You deserve to work in a place that is free from dangers and harm.
Knowledge is the best armor. Being cognizant of the common orthopedic injuries allows you to avoid dangerous situations. However, knowledge is insufficient without action.
Be proactive and lead the charge to improve and promote safety at your workplace.
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