How Back Pain Costs Your Business

 

Grainger Editorial Staff

Posted: 5/01/18

 
 
 

Sometimes, work hurts. But you know what they say: 

No pain, no gain.

Feel the burn.

Hurts so good.

But those voices that tell you to just work through it—they don't have your best interest in mind. You might need to work through discomfort or even pain, sometimes, but in the long run, you need to think about the cost. Because the cost is real.

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are a huge cost for American business.

MSDs like low back pain, muscle strains and rotator cuff injuries are a leading cause of lost work days and lost productivity in America, and a big hit to the bottom line, even at smaller companies.

Consider some of the the statistics:

1 in 3

One of every three dollars spent on workers' compensationis caused by MSDs.(1)

8 Days

The median time off work due to MSDs in 2001 was eight days, compared to 6 days for all other nonfatal injury and illnesses.(2)

34 Percent

The share of lost workdays attributable to MSDs is 34 percent, as reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (3)

64 Percent

The percentage of back injury cases involving men that result in days away from work is 64 percent. (4)

600,000+

The number of work-related injuries and illnesses attributed to MSDs annually is more than 600,000, according to OSHA. (5)

70 Million

There are around 70 million doctor visits due to MSDs in the US annually; add in outpatient, hospital and ER visits, and the total is more like 130 million. (6)

$20 Billion

The direct cost to employers of MSD-related workers’ compensation are estimated at over $20 billion; indirect costs might be up to five times higher. (8)

$45 to $54 Billion

Annual economic burden of work-related MSDs due to workers’ compensation costs, lost wages, and lost productivity. (9)

Prevent Injuries

While the numbers surrounding back strains and injuries can be staggering, the cost of preventing them doesn’t have to be. OSHA maintains a website devoted to ergonomics—the science of making jobs fit the people who do them—and the steps it recommends are straightforward: Identify the situations that could lead to back problems in your workplace and create a training program to stop them before they start.

To spot the problems, spend time with your OSHA 300 Injury and Illness logs, workers' comp and first aid records and insurance claims. Look back at the problems that your workers have reported, and check in with them now to see what problems are brewing.

Then make sure your workers know the right way to do the job they’ve been assigned, whether that is lifting supplies or a patient. Are they frequently repeating the same motion, putting strain on their back? Are the materials they need to do their job placed too high or too low for them to reach comfortably? Remember, too, that extreme temperatures can affect back muscles. Breaks from those environments may be in order, as well as different work clothing.

You can get more tips from Grainger on ergonomics. OSHA also has links to training materials and programs for many industries through its ergonomics site.

FOOTNOTES

  1. U.S. Department of Labor. “Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders”.  2014.
  2. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics”
  3. U.S. Department of Labor. “Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders”.  2014.
  4. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics”
  5. U.S. Department of Labor. “Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders”.  2014.
  6. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics”
  7. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics”
  8. U.S. Department of Labor. “Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders”.  2014.
  9. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics”

SOURCES

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics

https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/musculoskeletal-disorders/index.html

Musculoskeletal Health Program

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/msd/default.html

OSHA Ergonomics

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/

Statistics

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160301114116.htm

 

 
 

 

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