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Work-related back injuries cost billions each year

Minnesota readers may be interested to learn that, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, back pain is the second leading cause of missed work, behind only the common cold. More than one million workers suffer from back pain each year. The most common types of back injuries that occur at work are herniated discs and muscle strains and sprains.

Strain in the lower back is often caused by overuse of muscles or over-stretching of ligaments or tendons. Once the lower back has been injured in this way, the likelihood of a similar injury in the future is increased. Back injuries may not only compromise the ability to work, but they may also create difficulty in the performance of the day-to-day tasks of life. Lower back disorders cumulatively cost from $50 to $100 billion annually in the United States. It is estimated that state workers' compensation systems cover $11 billion of the total cost each year.

The risk of back injury is highest in jobs that require forceful movement, lifting or exposure to vibration. According to a report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, lower back injuries are most commonly a result of unexpected exertion, slipping or falling, trauma that accumulates over time or improper lifting, carrying, bending, twisting, lowering, pushing or pulling.

Workers' compensation laws in Minnesota are designed to provide benefits to injured workers even if there is no fault or negligence on the part of the employer. Those who have suffered an injury on the job, whether to the lower back or otherwise, may have claims for compensation. A lawyer with experience in workers' compensation matters may be able to help injured parties understand their rights and responsibilities under the law or may be able to assist with the filing and pursuit of a claim.

Source: Central States Orthopedics, "Work-Related Injuries -- Lower Back", October 14, 2014

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