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For millions of Americans, work is a pain in the back

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Blog, Workers' Compensation

Each year, thousands of New Jersey workers suffer back injuries on the job. While physically demanding occupations are most likely to cause acute back injuries, office jobs can also lead to long-term back pain.

Workplace back injury statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1 million Americans hurt their backs at work each year, and back injuries account for 20% of all work-related injuries reported annually. Around 80% of all back injuries occur in the lower back, and 75% happen when workers attempt to lift objects.

Other common causes include:

  • Repetitive movements, especially those that involve twisting
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Poor posture
  • Age, obesity or poor physical condition

Health care workers, particularly nursing assistants and nursing home staff, are more likely to suffer overexertion back injuries than workers in other occupations. However, desk employees make up the majority of workers with chronic back pain. Metal workers account for over 75% of all workers’ compensation claims.

Back injuries cost U.S. companies approximately $225.8 billion each year.

How to prevent back pain and injuries

To reduce the risk of on-the-job back injuries, health care experts recommend that workers:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Engage in regular aerobic exercise and strength training
  • Maintain correct posture when standing and sitting
  • Learn how to properly lift heavy objects
  • Modify and alternate repetitive tasks
  • Take frequent walking and stretching breaks when sitting for long periods

Workers who suffer back injuries should report the incident to their supervisor and seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be necessary to take several days or weeks off work to recover.