When you are a construction worker, you often are moving heavy materials from one place to another as you are on your job site. After a long day, more than likely, you might feel your back aching. Or you could be working, lifting a large pile of tile or flooring, and instantly feel it: sharp pain in your back, making it nearly impossible to move.

You’ve likely suffered an on-the-job back injury.

How common are workplace back injuries?

Experiencing debilitating back pain that keeps you from working is one of the most common workplace injuries. In fact, about 24% of workplace injuries that require time off come from overexertion after either lifting heavy loads or making repetitive movements. For construction workers, overexerting your back is the third most common workplace injury – behind workplace falls and being struck by an object or equipment.

How can you prevent a back injury?

If you do a lot of heavy lifting at work, you’ll want to try to avoid injuring your back. Some of the ways you can do that are by:
1. Making sure you are lifting with your legs and core muscles, not your back. You want to be able to keep your back in a natural curve as you lift, not overarching it or twisting it.
2. Making sure you ask for help for heavy loads and use the lifting devices you have available.
3. Giving your back some downtime. You want to take breaks and walk around a bit, to allow your back time to rest and your muscles to stretch. If you have another task you need to complete that doesn’t require lifting, do that so you aren’t putting so much strain on your back.
4. Pay attention to your posture both at work and away from it. Sitting up straight and balancing your weight on your feet will keep your back feeling stronger and help you avoid putting extra strain on your back muscles.

Experiencing back pain can feel debilitating. By taking steps to avoid a back injury and working with your employer to modify tasks to reduce overexerting your back, you can avoid missing time from work dealing with an injury. Yet if you do injure your back because of your job, make sure you file a workers’ compensation claim and work with an attorney if you have problems getting your medical costs covered.