Overexertion typically refers to an injury that occurs when an individual lifts something that is too heavy for them or otherwise injures themselves because they use too much force. These types of injuries are often work-related injuries that result from performing tasks.
Overexertion is one of the main causes of work-related injuries. It may result in serious injuries or bodily conditions, such as:
- Back injuries;
- Shoulder injuries; and
- Other injuries.
The second leading cause of on-the-job injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is overexertion and repetitive stress. If an individual pushes themselves too hard, whether they are returning to work after not being as active as usual or they are an essential worker who is working overtime. They can strain their body.
This may occur when they lift, pull, or push something that is too heavy for them. Symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders caused by overexertion include:
- Chronic pain; or
- The gradual loss of mobility in:
- ligaments; and
Issues that may arise as a result of these types of injuries include:
- Debilitating pain;
- Medical bills;
- Physical therapy; and
- Lost time at work.
What are Some Examples of Overexertion Injuries?
Overexertion typically refers to a lifting motion. The term, however, may also be used for other types of situations, including:
- Overtaxing of the heart or respiratory system;
- Lifting objects that are too large or too bulky;
- Lifting objects in the wrong manner;
- Doing too many repetitions of a movement in too short of a time with no recovery; or
- Working in harsh conditions, for example, in the heat or in a poorly ventilated area.
What are Common Types of Overexertion Injuries at Work?
An overexertion work injury can result from several types of work tasks and are often caused by:
- Poor instructions;
- Unsafe working conditions; or
- Other factors.
Examples of overexertion injuries may include:
- Boxes being lifted overhead;
- Pulling or pushing crates;
- Carrying heavy items for long periods of time;
- Long periods of standing, sitting, bending, or remaining in an awkward position;
- Performing repetitive tasks may result in repetitive stress injuries;
- Poor ventilation at work;
- Extreme temperatures, hunger, thirst, etc.; and
- Walking or moving for too long of a period of time without taking a break.
Because of the variety of causes, overexertion injuries may vary by case. A worker’s recovery depends largely on their abilities at the time of their injury as well as the work involved.
There are certain simple practices individuals may follow to help prevent overexertion and repetitive stress movements include:
- Use proper lifting techniques when lifting heavy objects. An individual should face the load with their feet shoulder-width apart and their back straight, squat by bending at the hips and knees, and then use their leg and stomach muscles to lift the load;
- Lift and carry heavy or awkward objects using a cart or hand truck;
- Instead of trying to muscle their way through a job alone, ask for help;
- Do not add an extra package or box to a load that is already full. Make an extra trip or ask another individual or individuals to help;
- An individual’s workstation should be arranged to minimize reaching, bending, twisting, and other awkward postures;
- While doing strenuous tasks, an individual should take short breaks so they can stretch and relax tense muscles;
- Stretching, exercising, and maintaining a strong core are all beneficial for preventing injury;
- Every 20-30 minutes, take frequent breaks from any static position;
- Move frequently used items closer, use a footrest, and adjust the height of the computer if working at a desk; and
- Report any pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, tenderness, clicking, or loss of strength to a doctor before it becomes a full-blown injury.
What are Common Overexertion-Related Injuries in the Workplace?
Many types of actions may result in overexertion-related injuries in the workplace, including:
- Carrying; and
- Similar actions.
Overexertion may also cause the following injuries:
- Back injuries: Injury to the back is the most common overexertion injury. This can range from mild strains to severe spinal cord injuries. Surgery may be required for some back injuries, which can render the employee incapacitated for quite some time. Physical therapy may be required for certain back injuries;
- Strained muscles: A strained or pulled muscle often occurs when employees overexert themselves when lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying. Although muscle strains may not appear to be serious, they may interfere with an employee’s ability to perform their job;
- Neck injuries: Any injury to the neck can be debilitating because the neck is a sensitive part of the body;
Injuries to joints, tendons, and connective tissues: The overuse of these vital parts of the body can result in:
- tendon tears;
- joint dislocations; and
- inflamed connective tissue; and
- Heat exhaustion: Overexertion injuries may include heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Manual laborers may suffer heat strokes in the summer but they can occur all year long in some factory settings.
In certain industries, for example, construction, workers are more likely to have overexertion injuries. However, employees can overexert themselves in any situation.
Is Overexertion Only a Problem at Work?
Overexertion injuries result from overextending an individual’s muscles or spraining their ligaments. Repetitive motions may cause these types of injuries.
Overexertion injuries are not limited to the workplace. Strains or sprains may be caused by many things, including squatting to pick up shoes or even carrying a load of laundry.
Many individuals engage in these types of activities without realizing it. Daily tasks, including shopping, receiving packages, and picking up children are common ways injuries may occur.
If an individual lifts any type of heavy load incorrectly, they may develop an overexertion injury.
How are Overexertion Injuries Remedied?
Overexertion injuries are often remedied through an insurance claim or worker’s compensation. These may allow the worker to recover some of the costs and wages that were lost due to the injury.
These may help cover costs including:
- Rehabilitation or therapy;
- Surgery; and
- Other medical procedures.
If this does not provide sufficient compensation, the individual may be required to file a civil lawsuit. Sprains and strains often take several days or weeks, sometimes even months, to fully heal.
In other contexts, overexertion may occur due to negligence. For example, overexertion may result when a trainer negligently instructs a client in a gym during exercises.
These types of incidents may also lead to civil legal claims.
How Can Overexertion be Prevented?
Overexertion can be prevented in several ways, including:
- Proper form and proper application of physics;
- Using the right equipment for the job;
- Recognizing one’s own limits in terms of strength, endurance, and alertness; and
- Stopping or filing for time off at the first sign of injury or fatigue. Many overexertion cases result from individuals pushing through, even when they are injured.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Overexertion Injury Claims?
Overexertion claims may be complex and require the assistance of expert witnesses or other professionals. It may be helpful to consult with a worker’s compensation lawyer if you need help filing a claim for overexertion.
Your attorney can provide you with advice on how to pursue a legal remedy. If you need to file a lawsuit and appear in court, your attorney will help you every step of the way.