According to the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR), in 2010 back injuries made up 16.4% of all nonfatal construction injuries resulting in days away from work, making the back the most frequently injured area of the body in construction injuries. Other studies conclude that back injuries account for 25% of all construction time loss injuries. CWPR reports that construction workers face a higher risk of back injury than all other industries, with the exception of transportation and retail. The construction jobs at highest risk for back injuries are glass and glazing, masonry, roofing, drywall and insulation, plumbing and heat a/c, and highway, street and bridge work.
Back injuries are a huge problem in the construction industry, and many injuries can be prevented by following industry safety standards. Where a construction worker suffers a back injury due to the negligence of a third party (not the worker’s own employer), the worker may be entitled to recover money damages to compensate for lost wages, future loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages depending on the case.
The majority of back injuries affect the low back and are sprains and strains resulting from lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling heavy loads, and slips, trips and falls. The risk for back injuries is increased for workers who must frequently handle heavy loads or must work in spaces forcing the worker into an awkward posture. Over half of back injuries result from cumulative trauma, and about 23% result from trips, slips and falls. Once a worker has suffered one back injury, they are at increased risk for suffering future back injuries.
Some common negligent conditions that result in back injuries include poor housekeeping, failure to secure walking surfaces, lack of or improper use of fall protection, and requiring workers to lift either too heavy of loads or lift loads in awkward positions. Washington State safety regulations apply to construction sites and are intended to reduce the risk injury to employees. Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of back injuries and there are extensive regulations intended to reduce trip and fall hazards. Specific regulations are discussed in greater depth in our page on Slips and Falls on Construction Sites.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries provides a free app available for both Android and iPhone which allows you to calculate how much you can safely lift. The app will determine the maximum safe lifting weight based on where your lift begins, the number of lifts per minute and hours of lifting per day, with additional considerations for lifts that require twisting motions. If you are required to lift beyond the weight recommended by L&I, you may be subjected to unsafe work conditions. The app is available for download at the following link: Evaluation Tools
The attorneys at Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC, have extensive experience handling back injury cases, and specifically cases involving back injuries sustained on construction sites. Whether your injury resulted from a specific incident such as a fall or from cumulative trauma such as repeatedly lifting heavy loads, the lawyers at Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC, are available to help you determine whether you are entitled to recover for your injuries. We offer a free consultation and accept cases all over the state of Washington, including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Olympia, Bellingham, Spokane, Yakima, and anywhere else in the state.