In this article we look at body stressing injuries, which make up a huge 40% of workplace injury occurrences in Australia.
So, what is a ‘body stressing injury’?
This type of injury is often sustained as a result of manual handling or repetitive movement and includes a range of soft tissue injuries.
Body stressing is a common cause of the aches and pains we can all experience at work; sore necks, backs and wrists are all symptoms of body stressing. These aches can extend or worsen into strains, conditions and diagnosable injuries, such as Repetitive Strain Injuries (“RSI”).
Due to the repetitive nature of injuries such as these, individuals that work in labouring, construction, agriculture, process working, manufacturing, packing, warehousing or similar roles or industries see higher rates of injury. This is often due to the frequent heavy lifting, operating heavy machinery and repeat movements such as stacking or unloading.
What is ‘soft tissue’?
Soft tissue is the muscles, tendons and ligaments that make up your body. The only parts of your body that are not ‘soft tissue’ are bone, teeth, nails, hair and cartilage.
What are the symptoms of ‘body stress injuries’?
Body stressing is often identifiable as localised pain or swelling. There are a number of warning signs that may assist you and your employer in identifying potential and/or actual body stress injuries:
- regular discomfort or pain
- tiredness and/or sickness
- poor work rate
- feelings of heightened stress and negativity
It is important that if you believe you may have a body stress injury, that you inform your employer or management, and that you consult with your doctor for medical advice. These symptoms don’t just impact on your work, they can affect your ongoing wellbeing and potentially develop in chronic, ongoing injuries; which you want to avoid!
What can you do to reduce your risk?
The risk of body stressing injuries is higher in instances where you are lifting, carrying or performing repetitive movements over extended periods of time, without adequate rest breaks or rotation between your duties. They can also be caused by poorly set-up workstations, ineffective safety and training, faulty equipment and procedures.
- Ensure your workspace/ job site is compliant with all safety regulations, if you think something may not be correct report it directly to your supervisor or project manager.
- Undertake all training and adopt those techniques recommended in the training undertaken.
- Comply with on-site procedures.
- Pay attention to any pain or strains you feel, if you identify ongoing pain and report it to your employer.
- In the event of continued symptomology, consult with your doctor for medical advice.
- Take care of yourself; make sure you lift/ carry correctly, take regular breaks, wear correct clothing/equipment etc.
Your employer can:
- Assess your job site or workstation to identify risks, and/or possible contributing factors if you have identified a body stress injury.
- Provide alterations/corrections to your site/station and/or duties.
- Provide support and any specialised equipment you may need for recovery.
- Assist with recovery programs or light duties.
- Refer you to rehabilitation providers to coordinate your care.
- Provide a system or regular rest breaks, recommend regular stretching be undertaken in those breaks, and provide a regulated system of rotation between repetitive duties.
Your workplace should be a safe and secure environment, in which you can perform your expected duties with comfort and without unreasonable risk of injury. If you work in higher risk industries, it is important that you know how to reduce your risk of injury. This is not a task you have to take on alone; your workplace should be proving assessed environments, safety equipment, training, protective clothing and equipment, regular rest breaks, and rotation of repetitive duties. You are responsible for identifying any risks and reporting them, and for your own behaviour while on-site and during work hours.
Body stress injuries are very common in labouring and other repetitive work environments industries, where the chance of strain and sprain are increased. You should never ‘push through’ the pain of a strained back or neck, this can only lead to further complications, potentially increased time away from work and in severe or chronic cases a change of career caused by permanent injury.
If your workplace is unhelpful, dismissive of your symptoms, your injury or unsafe in its practices, please call us and have a confidential chat with one of our expert lawyers.