Health & Safety Institute Blog

March 27, 2015

Head, Neck, and Back Injuries — Prevention and Emergency Treatment

From typical lower backaches all the way to the sharp pain of an accident-induced case of whiplash; head, neck, and back injuries are never a good time. Today’s blog post explores some training you can implement in your workplace to prevent these types of injuries, as well as what to do when faced with a potentially serious injury.

All about the ergonomics

Everyone who works with a computer at a desk knows how a long session on the keyboard can result in shoulder, neck, and wrist pain. Paying attention to your posture and setting your workspace up correctly can go a long way in preventing future complications from these typical office-induced ailments. Check out Summit’s Office Ergonomics program to get your office workers up to speed.

But ergonomic principles don’t stop at the cubical walls. Bending, lifting, and repetitive activities can happen in many areas of the workplace. For a less “office-only” approach, Summit has you covered:

Industrial Ergonomics
Summit’s Industrial Ergonomics training course teaches your workers how to recognize ergonomic hazards and prevent injuries. The course teaches what musculoskeletal disorders are, how to reduce exposure, and how to recognize risk factors and prevent injury:

  • Definition of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries
  • Factors that cause MSDs
  • Preventative measures
  • Proper job function and design
  • Ergonomic risk factors
  • Available in Spanish and Swedish

Back injuries on the job

“Always lift with your legs” is only the beginning of back safety at work. Posture and good stretching techniques come into play as well.

Summit’s Back Injury Prevention program teaches proper lifting techniques and important life lessons for maintaining a strong and healthy back. The fundamentals of good stretching and a healthy lifestyle are also covered. The program addresses:

  • How the back functions
  • Correct lifting and carrying
  • Correct posture techniques
  • Stretching to prevent injury
  • How good health reduces chance of injury
  • Available in Chinese, Danish, French, Portuguese, and Spanish

A special shout-out to our readers in the healthcare and EMS professions — When it comes to moving patients, you know you need to take care of yourself as much as you do your patient. Our 24-7 EMS library includes a course just for you:

Lifting & Moving
This course reviews steps for safe lifting and moving. Power lifts, squat lifts, and power grips are defined and demonstrated. Patient-moving devices and three types of emergency moves are reviewed and demonstrated. The course re-emphasizes the importance of good physical fitness and conditioning, as well as the use of good body mechanics to prevent injury.

What to do in an emergency SEE ALSO: Eye Safety At Work - What Can You Do?

Witnessing, or even simply discovering, someone with a head, neck, or back injury can be a truly scary moment, as these types of injuries can be very serious.

When the body suffers a significant force, such as from a high fall, shooting, or motor vehicle crash, serious injury can result, most notably to the spine. Injury to the spinal cord can result in temporary or permanent paralysis or in a life-threatening condition, such as the loss of breathing.

After the initial injury, movement of damaged spinal bones can result in additional injury to the spinal cord or surrounding tissue. This can result in permanent damage

Quickly instruct a responsive person to remain still. Ask about how the injury occurred. Look for any obvious injury to the head, neck, or back. Ask about numbness, tingling, burning, or loss of sensation in the arms or legs.

The lack of obvious injury does not mean that the spine is not injured. If a significant mechanism of injury occurred, it is best to assume a spinal injury exists.

The priority of care is to help prevent further injury by keeping the injured person still and using spinal motion restriction.

A significant blow or force to the head can result in internal injury to the brain and soft tissues within the skull. Swelling or bleeding from the injury can cause increasing pressure within the skull and damage to the delicate brain tissue.

Suspect a brain injury when a blow to the head results in confusion or disorientation. Surgical intervention may be the only treatment. Activate EMS immediately and provide spinal motion restriction.

If a bleeding wound is present, place an absorbent pad directly over the area. Do not try to stop the flow of blood or fluid from the ears or nose.

Closely monitor the person’s level of responsiveness. If fluid accumulates in the mouth or vomiting occurs, roll the person onto their side to protect the airway.

If the person has a seizure, maintain spinal motion restriction and protect them from bumping into nearby objects. Do not restrain the person tightly and do not place anything in their mouth. Seizures generally last for just a few minutes.

Reassess regularly until another provider or EMS take over.

Want to learn these techniques yourself? If you’ve never taken a first aid class, or maybe it’s been a really long time since you did, we’ve got an ASHI or MEDIC First Aid class in your area. And please, while you’re in class, give your own back some love and sit up nice and straight!

Find A Class, ASHI, MEDIC First Aid




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