Know which Pennsylvania county recorded the highest number of documented work-related injuries in 2017? It was our own Allegheny County, according to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. In fact, Allegheny County made up eight percent (15,259 in total) of reported work-related injuries in Pennsylvania.
Allegheny County Injuries by Industry
The industries with the highest number of reported injuries were: Education & Health Services: 6,042 injuries
Trade, Transportation & Utilities: 2,957 injuries
Public Administration: 1,120 injuries
Leisure & Hospitality: 1,086 injuries
Manufacturing: 1,074 injuries
While each industry suffered more than 1,000 injuries in that year alone, the most frequent type of injury was sprains and strains. Here's the good news for workers in Allegheny County: Sprains and strains can be avoided by understanding the risk factors and taking the right precautions.
Sprain and Strain Risk Factors
Bad posture is a common occurrence in the workplace whether you work a manual job or in an office. While kneeling, bending over, and twisting may be necessary at your job and can be executed properly, these actions can lead to injury if done incorrectly. They also become a risk when the positions are constantly repeated or performed for a long duration of time.
Aside from bad posture, repetitive movement is also a common risk factor of sprains and strains. Repeating the same motion stresses the muscles and joints. The amount of stress the body experiences is determined by the force of the job, the duration of the job, and the recovery time allotted between motions.
Excessive force can lead to sprains and strains. This primarily includes lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling heavy objects. Excessive force also plays a role in jobs where employees utilize hand tools and power tools. Imagine you are trying to loosen a bolt. If it's clean, it should move with little pressure. A rusty bolt, however, requires you to put more force behind the movement in order to loosen it. This jeopardizes the control you have over your muscles and may fatigue muscles quicker, resulting in the risk of injury.
If you work in hot or cold conditions for an extended amount of time, you put yourself at risk for an injury. A hot environment can lead to muscle fatigue, which could increase the risk of sprains and strains. On the other hand, a cold environment reduces the blood flow to your fingers and hands. This causes numbness, which could result in the inability to grip objects.
Vibrations experienced at the workplace break down into two categories: hand-arm vibrations and whole body vibrations. Hand-arm vibrations are caused by working with power tools, which primarily damages nerve and vascular tissue. Whole body vibration occurs when an employee's body comes in contact with the vibrating surface of heavy vehicles or machinery. There is a strong correlation between whole body vibration exposure and lower back injury.
Poorly Designed Tools
Tools that are the wrong size or not used for their intended purpose could cause an injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strain, or tendinitis.
*Note: The above advice is only a recommendation. For more details on preventing sprain and strain injuries in the workplace, consult with a safety or ergonomics professional.
Let Dugan & Associates Help You
If you or someone you love has suffered from a work injury or illness--including a sprain or strain--the team at Dugan & Associates is here for you. Our team of expert workers' compensation lawyers is ready to look at your case and make sure you receive the maximum monetary compensation available to you. Contact us online or give us a call at 412-353-3572 for your free consultation today.