Steps to take following a Wisconsin workplace back injury

In 2011, approximately one million workers reportedly suffered on-the-job injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On average, an injured worker misses eight days of work.

In Wisconsin, workers' compensation insurance covers most employees. The system provides a safety net, which pays medical bills and a portion of wages during the time it takes to recover from a workplace injury.

Back injuries are one of the most common of all reported workplace injuries. A review by the California Worker's Compensation Institute found that back injuries made up a quarter of all workers' comp payments between 2001 and 2011. Lost work time was reported in almost half of the back-related claims. While the numbers may not be as high in Wisconsin, the report indicated just how prevalent back injuries remain in the workplace.

From strains to sprains and slipped discs, the pain associated with a back injury can vary from dull to sharp and stabbing. These injuries are common in many professions that require lifting, such as healthcare, package delivery and construction. Office work can also be a cause of back pain or worsen a prior back injury.

What causes a back injury?

Some of the most common causes include:

  • Lifting - bad body mechanics, a slippery surface or awkward object can cause a back injury.
  • Repetition - moving patients all day can result in fatigue and possible injury.
  • Posture - the way a person sits or stands can also cause an injury or aggravate a prior injury.

Pain while standing or rising, decreased mobility and pain while sitting in a normal posture are all signs of a back injury. Physical activity (for example, swimming along with strength training) is one of the best ways to avoid an injury. Keeping an eye to maintain proper posture and avoid slouching also helps. Lifting with legs and core muscles and seeking assistance with heavy objects can reduce the chance of injury. But if you are injured on the job make sure to take action.

Steps to take following an injury

First, immediately inform a supervisor of the injury. Get appropriate medical attention, because delays can affect your health.

Next, your employer will notify its insurer. The insurance company reports the injury to the state Workers' Compensation Division. If you are found eligible and miss more than three days of work, your medical costs will be paid. Workers also receive wage benefits of two-thirds of their weekly wages up to a state-mandated cap.

Finally, you will need to work with medical providers to return to work as quickly as possible. You can choose your own doctor to ensure recommendations are in your best interest.

Back injuries often develop over time. Failing to immediately report an injury and toughing it out could result in more questions about when an injury occurred and what caused it. If an employer or insurer refuses to provide workers' comp benefits while questioning the cause of a serious back injury, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney.