Neck injuries sustained at work are all too common in Australia and occur in most, if not all, industries. Workplace injuries to the neck are the reason for countless Workers’ Compensation benefits claims. Such workplace accidents and injuries affect workers ranging from builders and storemen to tradies, nurses, airline baggage handlers, office workers, dry cleaners, and anything in between.
Common Types Of Neck Injury Claims
The most common kinds of work-related injuries that lead to Workers’ Compensation claims, personal injury or serious injury compensation claims include the following:
- Caused by the forceful, rapid to-and-fro or hyperflexion/hyperextension movement of the neck usually in rear-end crashes. Neck and shoulder pain are the main symptoms.
Cervical spine dislocation or fracture:
- A cervical fracture occurs when a bone in the cervical spine is broken. A cervical dislocation is when a neck ligament is injured, leading adjacent vertebrae to become separated and unstable.
- If muscles, bones, cartilage or tendons are pressing on a nerve, it’s known as a pinched nerve. The pressure affects the nerve’s function causing tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness.
- A neck sprain, neck strain or pulled muscle is when fibres in a muscle or tendon stretch and tear. Some strains recover in days or weeks, but the pain or discomfort can be mild to acute and debilitating.
- Several factors are associated with disc herniation which affects a single joint or several, with wear and tear being a main factor. As people age, the cartilage connecting spinal discs to the corresponding vertebrae can lose elasticity. Sudden impact and trauma from falls or accidents can also cause a herniated disc.
If you’ve sustained a neck injury at work, seek medical treatment and legal advice pronto even if you think your injury is minor.
Those More Likely to Suffer a Neck Injury From Work
“Brickie’s labourers” are renowned for heavy lifting, carrying bricks and mortar, bending, lifting, and pushing wheelbarrows in repetitive movements that can play havoc with necks and backs.
Construction site workers such as builders, carpenters, electricians and plumbers are also at risk of Repetitive Motion Disorders (RMDs) and other neck injuries. Apart from those mentioned above, other risky jobs include:
- Nurses, paramedics, theatre wardsmen and medical technicians
- Factory assembly line workers
- Taxi, bus and truck drivers
- Child care workers
- Cable and phone line installers
- Carpet cleaners and installers
- Garbage collectors
- Police and firefighters
- Equine dentists and farriers
- Dog groomers
- Delivery drivers
- Healthcare workers
In-Depth Look at the Workers at Risk of Neck Injury
Nursing home workers and nurses:
These workers face a growing risk of neck injury partly because of the ageing population, which means those they care for are older, more frail and need extra care, and the nurses and care workers themselves are also older and more prone to injury.
The job entails bending and twisting to help residents and patients in and out of showers, beds, and lounge chairs and in many cases, lifting the person out of them. Patients and residents are prone to falls and must be helped to their feet.
While facilities in Australia are obliged to follow Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policies to protect workers from neck and back injury by supplying mechanical lifters and other measures, injuries still occur and neck injury claims persist.
This occupation involves lifting, moving small and large objects, bending, twisting, and making forceful, awkward movements. Some warehouse workers are required to drive trucks or forklifts, and to operate whole-body vibrating industrial vehicles. Such vibration long-term can cause neck and backaches.
Surgeons and Dentists:
Prolonged standing, bending, stooping, and awkward body positions are a feature of these occupations, which require intense concentration which may cause the professional to forget the importance of good posture. Wrong body positioning and posture contribute to neck and back injury over prolonged periods.
Gardeners and Landscapers:
Neck pain and injuries in landscapers and gardeners are legendary. Gardening puts the worker at high risk of cumulative trauma which is the body’s response to overuse.
Repeated pruning of trees, trimming hedges, digging, mowing, whipper snipping, and planting involves much bending, heaving and awkward lifting, and stooping, which can lead to overuse. These hard workers use hand tools which can cause thoracic outlet syndrome, i.e., compression of nerves and blood vessels between the neck and shoulder.
Supermarket or Retail Store Workers:
Supermarket and retail store assistants generally use repetitive movements and sit or stand in one place for extended periods, moving grocery items or other purchases through the checkout. The packers who work late at night when the stores are closed have to lift boxes and pack the shelves high and low, which means bending and stooping, lifting and reaching which can lead to RMDs or sudden neck injuries.
In all these cases a slip and fall or other accident can result in neck pain and long-term injury.
Work-Related Neck Injury Compensation
Straining, twisting, pulling, bending, reaching, and sitting in front of a screen in an office that is not ergonomically sound for long periods can stress and weaken spinal structures and increase the risk of injury. Repetitive, long-term wear and tear on muscles, tendons and ligaments can be debilitating and be a cause for a Worker’s Compensation neck injury claim.
Neck Injuries at Work
Neck injuries at work can happen for a variety of reasons including slip and fall accidents, falling objects, heavy lifting, or RMD. Damages can be paid if workers make compensation claims where the cause of their neck injury was faulty equipment or employer neglect.
No matter the kind of job you were doing when you suffered a neck injury, you may be entitled to make a neck injury compensation claim and receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Compensation For Neck Injury at Work
Workers can sustain neck injuries in an accident while travelling in a work vehicle, out in the fields on a farm, or while taking calls in a call centre. And even if you think your injury is not serious, you must report it to your boss and seek medical attention without delay.
Neck injuries are renowned for showing up hours, days, weeks, months or years after the event. Whether your neck injury is sudden or gradual, severe or mild, report it straight away to your employer.