Blog Post #727 – Insight on Back Strain Injuries

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Women working in healthcare occupations in British Columbia accounted for the largest share of back strain injuries between 2003 and 2012, statistics released on August 12, 2013 by WorkSafe BC show.

Although health and medicine occupations were the third-largest contributor to overall back strain injury claims between 2003 and 2012, they accounted for the largest share a back strain injury claims among women at 31%, compared to only 3% for men.

Of those women in the health and medicine sectors experiencing back strain injury, the single largest occupation was nurse aides and orderlies, accounting for almost half of the total number of women filing claims that 46%. Registered nurses and registered nursing assistants comprise the second and third largest occupations at 27% and 17% of total claims filed respectively.

“A distinguishing characteristic of the social services and nursing occupations was the proportion of back strain injury resulting from acts of violence or force,” the report notes. About 9% and 7% of the total claims for back strain injury from social services and nursing occupations resulted from an act of violence respectively, compared to less than 1% for all other occupations.

Bonnie Pearson, the secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union in Burnaby, British Columbia, says patients-to-staff aggression and violence has been a concern in acute and residential care for years. “The fact that WorkSafeBC considers these ‘distinguishing characteristics’ when it comes to healthcare injuries is telling,” Pearson says. “Part of the solution to reducing workplace injuries and acts of force and violence is to have enough staff on shift to do the work properly and safely.”

My opinion

In Ontario, strains and sprains make up approximately 43% of all claims to WSIB. Back strain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis Elbow, Tendinitis makeup only a few of the many thousands of claims they receive every year.

The main idea for WSIB to record claims such as these is to know where to put all the resources when fixing the problem. PSWs (Personal Support Worker) is one of the hardest hit in the healthcare industry today.

The baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1965, are all coming to their glorious retirement. Since the baby boomers make up a large portion of the population the strain on the healthcare industry in the over the next 20 years is going to be astounding. There must be great care taken and better training provided as in manual lifting and manual lifting techniques. There also may be a higher prerequisite for a fitness in these fields because, heaven knows, as a baby boomer myself, you can sure see the writing on the wall.

The provincial and federal healthcare sectors need to be aware that back strain is only going to get worse and provisions need to be put in place now to protect the future workforce by raising physical condition requirements, provide manual lifting training and the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) for the occasion.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, Manual Material Handling’, ‘Repetitive Strain Injuries’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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