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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

How can you help prevent workplace overexertion injuries?

For many Georgia residents, going to work means spending the day doing physical labor. There are many ways to become injured in this type of job. However, according to 2012 data provided by the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overexertion was the most common injury. It was also the most expensive -- resulting in over $15 billion in workers' compensation costs.

Most overexertion injuries involved carrying, holding, lifting, pulling, pushing and throwing. However, some involved more seemingly-mundane activities like walking, standing and sitting. You don't have to hold a labor-intensive job to suffer an overexertion injury. Something as simple as moving a computer, lifting a box of files, or reaching for something on a high shelf can result in an overexertion injury.

While employers owe workers a safe workplace, there are things that workers can do to help ensure their own safety:

-- Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need to do something that is beyond your physical abilities or that you're unable to do alone. If there's no one available, ask a supervisor if you can wait until assistance is available.

-- Lift objects by using your knees rather than your back. Serious and even permanent back injuries can result from incorrect lifting.

-- If you're carrying something heavy, carry it at waist level (not above or below). Further, if you have a lot of items to move, don't carry more than you can safely handle in one trip.

-- Better yet, use a hand truck or cart to carry anything heavy. You may even be able to use a desk chair with wheels. Just be careful that the items don't fall off.

-- If you are doing labor-intensive work, remember to take regular breaks to rest, stretch and rehydrate.

-- Don't try to take on a physically-intense task after you've been sitting for a long time.

If a person becomes injured because his or her employer did not provide a safe workplace, that employer can and should be held accountable. Likewise, employers who do not allow workers to take the precautions necessary to stay safe may also face liability. Accountability is essential, as is appropriate compensation. Don't underestimate the amount of money that you and your family may need as you recover from your injuries.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "How to Avoid Overexertion in the Workplace," Maya Black, Demand Media, accessed June 10, 2015

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