workplace lifting injuriesLifting injuries are a primary reason that many workers must file claims for workers’ compensation benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overexertion-in-lifting injuries were the cause of 31 percent of all workers’ comp claims in 2015. Approximately 80 percent of these employees worked in the private industry sector. If you injured yourself when lifting something too heavy at work, you may be entitled to benefits under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws.

What Are the Risk Factors for a Lifting Injury?

While workers in many industries can suffer a lifting injury, some jobs can increase the likelihood that an employee will suffer this injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, these individuals were at higher risk:

  • Laborers
  • Freight, stock, and material movers
  • Nursing assistants
  • Heavy and trailer-truck drivers

Lifting injuries tend to be more likely to occur when certain factors are present. When workers are lifting in these situations, they are more likely to suffer a lifting injury:

  • A worker is trying to lift 50 pounds or more on his own.
  • The load is primarily being supported by one body part, such as a shoulder, hand, or arm, which increases the uneven pressure on the person’s spine.
  • The worker must bend to lift the object. This increases the stress on the spine and back, often resulting in lifting injuries.
  • The employer must lift heavy objects repetitively without sufficient rest breaks.
  • The worker must continue to hold the heavy object for extended periods of time after lifting it.
  • The worker is in an awkward position, such as twisting, when lifting or holding a heavy object.
  • There are inadequate handholds for the worker to use to grip what he is lifting and carrying.

Because so many people are required to lift various objects while at work on a daily or more infrequent basis, a lifting injury can occur in many ways. Some common ways that workers suffer these injuries include:

  • Lifting patients off gurneys and moving them from bed to bed
  • Pushing people in wheelchairs
  • Helping heavy patients with walking
  • Loading and unloading commercial trucks
  • Stocking inventory
  • Operating heavy machinery and other equipment
  • Preparing forklift loads
  • Stacking delivery boxes
  • Lifting moving company boxes and other cargo
  • Carrying heavy construction materials
  • Lifting garbage cans when emptying them
  • Lifting heavy boxes, furniture, and other objects in an office or when a business moves

What Are Common Lifting Injuries That Require Workers to File Compensation Claims?

Workers who suffer lifting injuries can experience severe pain and limitations in movement. Unfortunately, the condition can become worse if the worker continues to lift objects, even those that are not as heavy as the one that resulted in the injury. Common lifting injuries include:

  • Back strains and sprains. A back sprain involves the stretching or tearing of the back ligaments and a strain is an injury to the tendons or muscles. Symptoms include pain that increases when the person moves, limitations in movement, and muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Herniated disk. The disks are the pads with a soft central section between vertebrae that lessens the impact of movement on the spine. When the central section ruptures, the condition is known as a herniated disk. When large enough, the herniated disk can cause pressure on adjacent spinal nerves. This can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition that can require physical therapy, pain medications, and surgery to treat.
  • Rotator cuff tear. The rotator cuff is a series of muscles and tendons that surround a person’s shoulder. When the rotator cuff is torn, a person can experience dull pain deep in his shoulder and arm weakness. While a rotator cuff tear can sometimes be treated by physical therapy, more severe tears could require surgery.
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome. Shoulder impingement syndrome can occur when there is an impingement of the tendons, or bursa in the shoulder. It can cause constant shoulder pain and serious limitations of movement. If left untreated, it can develop into other medical conditions, such as tendonitis, bursitis, or rotator cuff tears.
  • Patellar tendonitis. This disorder is an injury to the tendon that connects a person’s kneecap to his shinbone. Initially, a person may only experience pain when performing heavy lifting, but as the condition worsens, even getting out of a chair or climbing steps can be painful.

Have you suffered a lifting injury at your job? These claims for workers’ compensation benefits can be challenging to settle because workers’ compensation insurance companies tend to dispute the seriousness of the injuries. You need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer