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Workplace injuries among first responders

First responders in California and in other states around the nation work diligently to protect and offer safety to others. In many cases, they put themselves in harm's way to do their jobs. However, one of the most common workplace injuries in the country is of particular concern to EMS workers and firefighters. Back injuries force roughly 10 percent of first responders off work at any given time.

A study from the International Association of Fire Fighters reports that almost 50 percent of early retirements were caused by back injuries. In recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 21 percent of on-the-job injuries among first responders were attributed to lower back injuries. These injuries affect both workers and employers. Employees must deal with pain on and off the job as well as missed work time. Employers have to staff to cover for absences and pay workers' compensation.

Understandably, over half the back injuries are caused by lifting patients. Contributing to the stress on the back are the heavy lifting, awkward positions and repetitive motions. In spite of the usage of safe lifting devices, there has not been a significant change in the injury data over the past decade.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has instituted safe lifting limits for first responders. However, many firefighters and EMS workers frequently exceed the established limits. Safety experts recommend the use of more devices to effectively lift patients and avoid injuries. Training on the proper usage of the new equipment is also vital to reducing injuries.

Even with comprehensive safety procedures in place and having the latest equipment available, workplace injuries can occur in any industry. A California workers' compensation attorney can help employees who have been injured on the job. An experienced lawyer can help ensure that workers receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.

Source: jems.com, "Reducing EMS Provider Lift Injuries", Bryan Fass, Oct. 1, 2017

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