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Strain injuries common in dock workers

| Oct 3, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, warehouses are among the most prevalent sites for work-related injuries. Twenty-five percent of these injuries occur at loading docks. Furthermore, 16 percent of injuries occurring at loading docks, in Illinois and across the United States, are strain injuries.

Strain injuries are categorized as musculoskeletal disorders, which consist of damage to the body’s joints, ligaments, nerves and tendons. Forceful exertions, repetitive motions and sustained or awkward positions are typical precursors to strain injuries.

Due to the considerable amount of lifting that is required of dock workers, oftentimes featuring heavy objects, it is unsurprising that strain injuries are concentrated in this work environment. Moreover, especially during a period of challenging economic conditions, companies are under pressure to extract maximum productivity from dock workers, which may compromise protecting them from injury.

Three most common causes of strains

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are three primary causes of this category of musculoskeletal disorders among dock workers. The first is improper lifting, such as lifting a heavy object without sufficient support from leg muscles. The second is repetitive motion, such as performing the same task in an assembly line over an extended period of time. The third is poor design of operations, such as a step in the loading process that requires lifting heavy objects above the head or lowering them below the feet.

The frequency of strain injuries to dock workers resulting from the three primary causes could be mitigated through arguably simple measures. To illustrate, better training on proper lifting techniques could help workers to overcome dangerous lifting habits. Consistent rotation of workers could reduce the risk of repetitive motion. More thoughtful design of operations could eliminate the need for workers to sustain awkward positions that apply damaging pressure to their musculoskeletal systems.

Three most common types of strains

A 2012 study published by researcher Marlise Almeida on the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among dock workers showed that a strain-related work accident on a dock is most likely to be diagnosed as one of the following three issues:

  • Low back pain (39 percent of cases)
  • Tendinitis (20 percent)
  • Neck pain (13 percent)

These three specific strain issues, of which dock workers are at a high risk, cannot only impair the ability to perform well on the job, but also the ability to enjoy a high quality of life away from work. Consequently, workers who have sustained strain injuries on docks may be able to obtain workers’ compensation with the help of an attorney.