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Back injuries and aggravations common at work

In our last post, we began speaking about statistics on workplace injury and illness recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As we noted last time, the overall number of reported days missed due to workplace injuries and illnesses slightly decreased in 2013 compared to 2012.

One of the figures that we wanted to save for a separate post was that musculoskeletal disorders accounted for one-third of all illnesses and injuries reported in 2013. Musculoskeletal disorders include a variety of conditions affecting the joints, nerves, tendons and muscles, with back injuries being especially common. Health care providers, particularly nursing assistants, were found to be more at risk than other workers, but back injuries are a concern in many industries across the United States, so much so that the U.S. Department of Labor has called back injuries the nation’s top workplace safety problem.

According to the Department of Labor, over one million workers suffer back injuries every year and one quarter of all compensation indemnity claims is tied to a back injury. Because so many people suffer from back injuries or conditions to start with, too, the issue of workplace injury exacerbating a pre-existing back condition becomes important.

Under California law, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries which aggravate a pre-existing condition, meaning that the workplace injury causes new symptoms to appear, a fresh need for medical treatment, further incapacitates the employee or results in more work restrictions on a sustained or permanent basis. If the work injury, after a healing period, leaves the employee in the same condition as he or she was in before the incident, it is a different matter.

It is important for those who have been further injured on the job due to a pre-existing condition to understand their rights under state law and to work with an experienced attorney in protecting those rights when their claim is unfairly rejected.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in 2013,” Dec. 16, 2014.

U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet No. OSHA 89-09, “Back Injuries—Nation’s #1 Workplace Safety Problem,” Accessed Dec. 17, 2014.

California Department of Human Resources, “Workers’ Compensation Review,” Jan. 2014. 

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