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Why is construction and nursing so bad on the back?

If you were to ask most people what type of job roles are most likely to result in a serious back injury, they’d probably point to a physically-intensive position such as mover, delivery or sanitation worker. However, almost any job can be potentially damaging to a worker’s spine. The statistics may surprise you.

Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2003 reveals that there were 4.4 million non-fatal occupational illnesses or injuries reported that year. At least 880,000 of those were back-related. At least half of the overall private-sector employees that were severely injured that year had to request workplace accommodations, transfer to a different role or missed time from work due to their injuries.

Two of the industries that are most apt to leave a worker with back injuries include the nursing and construction ones. Surgeons and dentists, warehouse workers, gardeners and landscapers and retail personnel are quite vulnerable to suffering serious spinal injuries as well.

Nurses and nursing home workers are most apt to suffer spinal injuries when moving around patients. BLS data shows that some 80% of the shoulder or back injuries that workers in these roles suffer are caused by moving around patients.

Nurses and nursing room staff regularly have to transfer patients onto the toilet and into the bathtub. They may have to turn their patients in bed, push them in a wheelchair or lift them to get them dressed. All of these actions can result in these workers seriously injuring their backs.

Construction workers do a lot of pulling, bending, tugging and lifting on a repeated basis every day. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that BLS data shows that at least 30% of those employed in this profession miss work annually because of back or neck strains and sprains. Construction workers are also a significant fall risk as they often stand on ladders or scaffolds for a significant portion of their day.

There is a long list of professionals that may be at risk of hurting their back on the job. The severity of their condition often isn’t known until they’ve passed their point of recovery. You’re entitled to compensation and other benefits if your pain is so debilitating that it’s keeping you from working.


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