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Lifting causes many injured workers to file benefits claims

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the overexertion workers experience with respect to manual lifting tasks is a cause for concern when it comes to the safety and health of employees nationwide, including in Colorado. Significant numbers of reports by injured workers link their injuries to lifting. OSHA's safety regulations do not include rules for manual lifting, but the agency recommends compliance with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health guidelines that include formulas to help determine weights that will be safe to lift.

OSHA says a combination of training to teach employees safe lifting techniques along with making changes to the ergonomics of work environments can reduce the number of incidents that cause lifting injuries. An ergonomic study can determine which changes must be made to work space and the job environment to suit the physical strength and capabilities of the employee. This can prevent a worker from having to put his or her health on the line while doing repetitive lifting tasks.

Aspects to examine when looking at lifting tasks include how much force is required to lift objects, the frequency and duration of lifts along with the body movements and postures required to carry out the different lift tasks. This information can be used to bring about changes in the weights, shapes and sizes of objects to be lifted, as well as the levels at which they must be lifted and lowered. Mechanical lifting equipment and conveyors may also lead to fewer lifting injuries.

Colorado employees may be surprised to learn that over 94,000 workers across the country suffered overexertion injuries such as slipped disks, sprains, strains and torn muscles and ligaments that caused absence from work in 2015, while fall accidents in the construction industry caused less than 50,500 injuries in that period. These figures underscore the urgency of taking steps to reduce the number of workers' compensation claims filed for injuries caused by overexertion through repetitive lifting tasks. Experienced workers' comp attorneys can help injured workers pursue benefits claims for medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: bizjournals.com, "6 ways to prevent workplace lifting injuries", Judie Smithers, July 19, 2017

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