Workplace injuries take all kinds of shapes and forms, but back injuries are definitely among the most common.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that more than a million U.S. workers hurt their backs every year – and back injuries are the result of one out of every five workplace injuries. Given that back injuries can be incredibly debilitating, it pays to understand how they happen.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are among the most common workplace accidents. Uneven surfaces, wet floors or cluttered floors can easily lead to an employee losing their balance and sustaining a back injury on impact with the floor.

Manual handling and lifting

Jobs that involve frequent lifting, carrying, bending or moving heavy objects pose a significant risk to the back. Improper lifting techniques, loads that are too heavy or repetitive lifting without adequate breaks can strain the back muscles and lead to injuries.

Falls from heights

Certain professions, such as construction and maintenance, involve working at heights. Falls from ladders, scaffolding, or elevated platforms can result in severe back injuries. The use of appropriate fall protection equipment, regular equipment inspections and employee training on safe work practices can help mitigate the risk of falls from heights – but not always prevent them.

Poor ergonomics

Even desk jobs can cause back injuries. Prolonged sitting, improper desk setups and repetitive movements without enough breaks contribute to the risk.

Vehicle accidents

A lot of employees spend part of their day behind the wheel, and sudden stops, collisions or even prolonged periods of sitting in uncomfortable positions can contribute to back problems.

Employers and employees alike need to prioritize safety measures to keep these kinds of accidents from happening. Proper training programs, ergonomic solutions, personal protective equipment (like braces) and more can help keep workers safer. When an accident does happen, however, injured employees need to assert their rights to get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve and are entitled to. Seeking legal guidance can make the process of pursuing benefits easier.