The oil field is notoriously dangerous, with many factors coming into play that increase the risk of accidents leading to injury, illness or even death. Oil field workers share with workers in many industries the potential to injure their back while on the job in Texas. As one of the most common sources of disability, prevention is key to reducing the negative effects of back injuries on the economy and productivity, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
There are many potential causes of back injury that might be associated with repetitive use or a single incident:
- Bending, twisting, reaching or otherwise making improper movements while lifting heavy objects
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time, especially with poor body mechanics or bad posture
- Lifting awkward or heavy objects or equipment over and over
- Excessive vibration from equipment or trucks
- Poor fitness, lack of proper strength or fatigue
- Slipping and falling in a way that hurts the back
Although pre-existing back problems, such as spinal defects, might play a role in an injury, many incidents are associated with improper handling or lifting heavy items. Many workers ignore any pain or discomfort until it becomes a significant problem leading to temporary or permanent disability.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few ways to prevent back injuries beyond creating safer work areas. It is important for all workers to use proper lifting techniques. This means engaging the core muscles and using the legs to lift. Employees should not be expected to lift anything that is too heavy. Workers should also develop a workspace that encourages proper posture and supports the back, especially those who sit all day on a machine, in a truck or at a computer. It is important to reduce the risk of fatigue and repetitive injuries by balancing work and rest.
It is also important for workers to prepare their body for the demands of the job. This includes strengthening the muscles required for any workplace duties, especially the back and abdomen muscles. Exercising, quitting smoking, a healthy diet and other healthy lifestyle changes also help build a stronger body that is more able to handle the physically demanding workload to prevent injuring the back.