Is Your Chosen Profession a Hotbed of Back Injuries?

Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does an in-depth review of workplace injuries. The BLS examines the employees, their positions, their industries, their injuries, and the length of time they were absent from work. From that research, the BLS can determine which work environments and careers will most likely result in injuries. This data allows the BLS and industry groups to make determinations and recommendations about what changes can or should be made to reduce workplace injuries.

Back injuries can be some of the most debilitating work injuries. Most often, the individuals who suffer from back injuries sustain these injuries because they use their backs regularly – for lifting, or lowering, or twisting, or pushing, or pulling. This loss of mobility can be incredibly detrimental to an individual’s ability to continue working and may lead to lost days at work and lost wages. In 2016, these five industries had the highest number of back injuries per 10,000 workers:

  1. Education and Health Services Fields – Workers in this industry had the highest rate of injury that led to days away from work. These are physical industries may require abrupt changes in motion and direction and that often require moments of extreme exertion. The lower back region was the most commonly injured, which is unsurprising since it is responsible for bearing most of the load in the motions required by these fields.
  2. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities – A large industry that includes utility pole climbers, sewer workers, aviation mechanics, and HVAC repairpersons. This industry had the second-highest number of back injuries, with lower back injuries again being the dominant type. Employees in these fields are constantly using their backs in some form and are also subject to falls that can cause back problems.
  3. Construction Workers – Construction workers are constantly trained on avoiding workplace injuries due to the dangerous nature of worksites, which likely helps reduce the number of back injuries. However, lower back injuries continued to be the dominant type, which is unsurprising considering the frequency of lifting and lowering heavy items.
  4. Natural Resource Workers and Miners – Individuals who work in mines, on oil rigs, and in oil fields are constantly at risk of injury and even death. The jobs in these fields often require crouching, pushing, and pulling, and very often require these actions in hard-to-reach places, which further places individuals at risk of injury. Similar to other fields, the lower back area was the most-injured area in these fields.
  5. Manufacturing and Production – Individuals employed in manufacturing and production positions must use their backs to lift, push, pull, or lower items during the manufacturing process. Unsurprisingly, then, lower back injuries were the dominant back injury reported by the BLS.

Anyone who works in any of these industries should be careful to avoid back injuries. If they do suffer an injury, it is important to receive treatment to help avoid long-term consequences.