If asked to identify the occupation with the highest rates of nonfatal injuries, people might end up guessing construction workers, oil and gas workers, commercial fishermen or perhaps even police officers.
While these are all excellent guesses, the answer according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is actually truck drivers. As surprising as this may be, consider also the wide range of injuries that the agency has identified truck drivers as being most at risk of suffering from general soreness, bruises and lacerations to fractures, strains and sprains.
In fact, OSHA has determined that over 50 percent of all nonfatal injuries in the trucking industry are sprains and strains, two potentially serious conditions that many people -- including truck drivers -- might have trouble differentiating.
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of the fibrous tissue bands (i.e., ligaments) that connect bones together to form joints. This type of injury typically occurs in the thumb, wrist, knee and, of course, ankle.
What is a strain?
A strain is a stretching or tearing of the fibrous tissue bands (i.e., tendons) that connect muscles to bones. This type of injury typically occurs in the hamstring or lower back.
In addition, a person can suffer one either an acute strain or a chronic strain. The former results when the tendon is stretched too far and too abruptly, while the latter results when the muscle is repeatedly subjected to the same movement.
Why are truck drivers so predisposed to sprains and strains?
While there is no definitive answer to this question, OSHA attributes some of the high incidence of sprains and strains in the trucking industry to the fact that many truck drivers are required to unload the goods they are hauling once they arrive at their destination resulting in overexertion.
We'll continue this discussion in future posts, exploring more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment for sprains and strains.
In the meantime, if you are a truck driver who suffered serious injuries on the job only to see your claim for work comp benefits denied, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and options.