According to the National Safety Council (NSC), overexertion is a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities. The term overexertion is used broadly to describe any situation in which the human body is pushed beyond its natural limits.
Muscle and tendon tears, sprains and strains, fatigue, stress reactions and back injuries can all result from overexertion at work. These consequences of overexertion often come into play as employees push themselves too hard in order to meet production quotas.
According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 275,590 workers suffered from overexertion injuries in 2019, accounting for 31 percent of all non-fatal injuries in the workplace.
Examples of overexertion injuries
Overexertion can be caused by injuries from lifting, pulling, pushing, holding or carrying heavy objects or material. An individual might sustain an injury from a single instance of over-exertion, or their injury may develop over time due to repetitive stress. Below are some of the most commonly reported overexertion injuries.
Back injuries represent the most significant portion of overexertion injuries. People often overexert their backs when lifting or pushing heavy objects or repeatedly bending down. Repeated stress on your back can result in spinal injuries, such as herniated discs, pinched nerves and stress fractures, which can cause severe pain and make it difficult to work.
Muscle sprains and strains
Sprains and strains occur when a muscle is overstretched. Common causes of muscle sprains and strains include lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying heavy objects. Although muscle sprains and strains can cause significant pain and require a lengthy recovery, most people will be able to heal fully as long as they rest and follow their doctor’s orders.
Muscle and tendon tears
Muscle and tendon tears are more severe than sprain or strain injuries. Tears can be either partial or complete and may require surgery to repair them.
The neck is a sensitive area of the body. Neck injuries can result from either sudden trauma or repeated stress. Injuries in this area often begin with pain in the neck that later extends to the arms and back as well.
Heat cramps and exhaustion are more likely to affect those who work in hot and humid outdoor environments in the summer or poorly ventilated indoor spaces such as warehouses. Overexertion at work that leads to heat exhaustion can cause an individual to become dizzy, nauseous and confused. In extreme cases, it can also lead to fainting, convulsions and even death.
Causes of overexertion injuries
Overexertion injuries can be caused by various activities in the workplace. The most common causes include:
- Repetitive use of tools and equipment
- Carrying and lifting heavy objects
- Jumping from heights
- Working in a hot environment
- Pulling or pushing heavy objects
- Extreme or prolonged physical labor
- Repetitive and excessive bending at the waist
- Exposure to excessive vibrations against the body
Particular vocations in the construction industry, for example, have a higher risk of overexertion injuries compared to others.
Alabama workers’ compensation for overexertion injuries
In Alabama, workers’ compensation covers all types of job-related injuries, including sprains strains. Depending on the severity of your overexertion injuries, you may be able to get financial compensation such as:
If you experience an overexertion injury at work, you’re entitled to reimbursement for medical treatment, including doctor appointments, surgery, medication, and physical and vocational rehabilitation therapy.
Under Alabama’s workers’ comp laws, injured workers are eligible to receive a portion of their lost wages, regardless of whether their injury is temporary or permanent. The amount you receive is generally two-thirds of your average weekly salary, up to a maximum amount. The maximum payment allowed for temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), and permanent partial disability (PPD) injuries varies, so it’s always best to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help you understand your options.
Preventing overexertion injuries in the workplace
Overexertion injuries can be prevented by not engaging in activities known to cause overexertion. Some ways that employers can reduce the risk of overexertion injuries to their employees include:
- Offering shorter, more frequent breaks
- Testing workers’ capabilities before they begin working
- Designing jobs with workers’ limitations, such as lift capacity, in mind
- Provide reliable training to instruct workers on how to stay safe
- Limiting the amount of time workers are engaged in repetitive motions
Workers can reduce their risk by following established safety recommendations, such as bending from the knees and keeping their back straight while lifting objects, and staying physically fit.
What should you do if you get hurt at work?
If you overexert or strain a muscle in the workplace, take the following actions to ensure you remain eligible for workers’ compensation:
- Seek immediate medical attention, and follow the doctor’s instructions.
- Report the injury to your supervisor, preferably in writing.
- Keep a detailed record of your medical treatments and their related costs.
- Seek legal counsel from a qualified Alabama workers’ compensation attorney.
Overexertion injuries are serious. Receiving immediate medical care will give you the best chance of recovery and ensure that your injury is documented so you can receive compensation while you recover. If your employer refuses to pay your medical bills or tries to delay your benefits, contact an Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer to learn more about your legal rights.
If you live or work in Birmingham and have been injured on the job, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. We know how hard it can be to pay your bills and get back on your feet while trying to recover from a workplace injury. Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with employers and insurance companies to get you the money you deserve. Call us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
About Nomberg Law Firm
Nomberg Law Firm has been helping people in Alabama recover fair compensation for their injuries since 1967. We know our clients are hard-working men and women who deserve the best representation possible. That’s why we’ve dedicated our entire practice to fighting for your rights after an injury.
The small size of our family-owned firm allows us to focus on our client’s needs and enables us to provide individualized assistance and personal attention that larger firms simply can’t match.