Occupational groups at highest risk of overexertion injuries
- Transportation and material moving
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
- Service occupations
- Healthcare practitioners and technical
- Construction and extraction
According to the 2013 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, overexertion injuries cost businesses $14.2 billion in direct workers' compensation costs in 2011. Overexertion includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing. Injuries from bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, stepping, kneeling, sitting, standing, or walking (excluding slips, trips, and falls) accounted for an additional $4.2 billion in direct costs.
Strains, sprains, and tears are by far the most common type of injury resulting from overexertion, followed by soreness and pain. The back is the body part most frequently affected by overexertion injuries, followed by the shoulder, arm, wrist, and knee.
Proper ergonomics can help to prevent overexertion injuries, along with safe lifting practices and the use of material handling aids. Although OSHA does not have a specific standard addressing ergonomics, employers who expose their workers to overexertion hazards can be cited under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers to provide a working environment free of recognized serious hazards.