According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, overexertion is the third-leading cause of injury in Canada—with around 47,000 overexertion injuries leading to lost time claims in 2018. These injuries can happen in the workplace when you push your body beyond its physical limits during a task. Overexertion injuries are typically caused by one of these activities:
- Physical labour—This includes manual tasks that require extra force, such as lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, gripping or using heavy tools.
- Poor positioning—This entails holding an awkward or stationary posture (e.g., sitting, bending, twisting or kneeling) for an extended period.
- Repetitive motions—This includes tasks in which the same movements or actions must be done repeatedly with minimal breaks, such as typing, stacking, packing or scanning.
Overexertion injuries usually make themselves known through soreness, burning, throbbing, swelling or even loss of function in the affected area. Ignoring these injuries can allow them to progress into painful, lifelong complications. That’s why it’s crucial to take steps to reduce your risk of overexertion at work. Use the following tips to help prevent such injuries:
- Lift with caution—If you need to lift anything at work, use safe techniques. Get a solid grip on the item you’re lifting and hold it close to your body. Raise, carry and lower the item slowly and smoothly—never bend, reach or twist while lifting.
- Practise proper ergonomics—Set up your workstation in a way that prioritizes ergonomics and will keep you comfortable throughout the day.
- Know your limits—Don’t force your body to do more than it can handle. Be sure to ask a co-worker for assistance if you aren’t sure whether you can perform a task on your own.
If you experience an overexertion injury at work, tell your supervisor and seek medical attention right away.