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Back Injuries in a Maritime Setting

The following is a guest blog post by the Texas Maritime Lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. concerning back injuries.

Back pain is the world’s leading cause of disability and musculoskeletal disorders are the most common on-the-job injuries.  Basically, back pain and back problems cause work disruption, reduce your employability, send you on sick leave, reduce productivity and cause skilled workers leaving the workforce too soon.  Back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders can include strains, sprains, arthritis, slipped discs and back pain.  Most chronic back pain is localized in the lower back or lumbar spine, and can radiate downward to the legs.

Some common ways maritime workers suffer back injuries are trip and fall accidents, twisting in awkward positions, manhandling too heavy of a weight of cargo, and repetitive vibration of the vessel.  Obesity, stress, anxiety and lack of sleep are all known to contribute to back strain.

If you work offshore and are already taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory mediation for back pain that has built up over time, you need diagnostic testing done to determine the pain’s cause.  If your chronic back pain has led to numbness or weakness in your legs, you may have slipped a disc, fractured a vertebrae, or be suffering from another serious back injury.  Continuing to “tough it out” and perform strenuous manual labor with back pain is a bad idea.  You run the risk of causing yourself permanent damage.

Back injury prevention is better than dealing with spinal damage.  Remember these tips for avoiding maritime back injuries:

  • Seamen need to educate themselves on how to work offshore safely.
  • Lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and twisting can all be done in a way that supports your back.
  • Watch out for signs of spinal strain.
  • Keeping your weight low will reduce pressure on your back.
  • Remember to stretch, check your posture, walk around during your work breaks, and to get enough sleep.

The Houston, Texas maritime law firm of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. was founded in 1964, and represents maritime workers throughout Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and around the world.  Our maritime accident lawyers have over 45 years of experience handling all aspects of maritime law including claims under the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

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