Overexertion causes around 22% of all work-related injuries, making it the largest contributor to workers’ compensation costs, with an estimated $14 billion every year.
Data from the General Social Survey shows that people are twice as likely to report they are exhausted now, compared to 20 years ago. Around 50% of people their exhaustion is directly caused by their job. While we may have a lot more insights into burnout or mental exhaustion, there is one other issue that needs to be discussed more: overexertion.
Overexertion happens when you push your body too far, physically. It’s that moment where, even if your back hurts, you continue to lift heavy objects as part of your job, ignoring the pain out of fear that you can’t afford to lose your job. However, overexertion causes around 22% of all work-related injuries, making it the largest contributor to workers’ compensation costs, with an estimated $14 billion every year.
What Exactly Is Overexertion?
Simply put, overexertion is when you use more physical force than your body can handle. For example, if you try to lift something too heavy for you, you’re overexerting your body and putting yourself at risk for an injury. Here are some other activities that can also cause overexertion injuries:
- Pushing or pulling heavy objects
- Carrying heavy objects
- Reaching for something overhead
- Bending or twisting your body awkwardly
- Sitting or standing in the same position for too long
As you can see, many of these activities are a part of our everyday lives and are often inevitable in the workplace. While these injuries cut across all industries, certain professions are more susceptible to overexertion injuries than others.
For example, healthcare workers, construction workers, and warehouse workers are just some of the occupations that commonly deal with heavy lifting and other activities that can lead to muscle strains, joint sprains, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Now that we know some of the most common activities that can cause overexertion injuries, let’s take a look at how we can prevent these injuries from happening.
How to Prevent Overexertion Injuries
Overexertion can lead to a lot of health complications later on. Usually, your body sends out some signals that you need to slow down long before there is extensive damage, but the pressures of the job can force workers to push through any aching and pains. Sometimes, to truly dangerous extents.
However, it’s incredibly important to stay safe on the job. Even if overexertion injuries are covered by worker’s comp, it’s always better to prevent than to treat. Here are some ways to protect yourself:
Prepare Before You’re on the Clock
If your job is physically demanding, it’s incredibly important to regularly exercise in order to boost your strength. Additionally, since your muscles are the most susceptible to injury when they’re cold, you should consider stretching before your shift starts to prepare your muscles and tissue for the upcoming effort. A simple warm-up routine that includes some light stretching can help reduce your risk of injury.
Plan Your Actions & Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Make any lift or difficult activity a mental process, not just a physical one. It’s important to think about what you’re going to do and prepare your body for the effort. For instance, lifting heavy objects should never put a strain on your back. Instead, take a few seconds to grip the object, and push through your legs to lift it, keeping the object close to your body and avoiding any sudden or jerky movements.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
This is especially important for healthcare workers who are on their feet all day. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable, supportive shoes to avoid any foot, ankle, or leg pain.
Use Ergonomic Tools
If you’re performing an activity that requires repetitive motions, such as typing on a keyboard, using ergonomic tools can help reduce the strain on your body. For example, an ergonomic keyboard can help minimize wrist and arm pain.
Take Breaks Whenever You Can
It’s incredibly important to give your body some rest, even in the middle of your shift. Every 20-30 minutes, you should change positions to avoid putting too much pressure on the same muscles and bones. If you can’t afford to take a break per se, even just changing the type of motion can help, as different motions require different muscles and bones.
If You’re Injured, Speak Up
Physically demanding jobs pose a great threat to many workers, as they are more likely to suffer musculoskeletal injuries. If this happens to you, then you should notify your employer at once and file a claim for worker’s comp benefits.
Whether you’ve suffered a muscle strain, joint sprain, or something more serious, the Law Office of James M. Hoffman is here to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. We have over 30 years of experience fighting for injured workers in Missouri and know what it takes to get injured workers the full benefits they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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