Which jobs put you at the highest risk of spinal injuries?

Would it shock you to learn that back injuries are the second-leading cause of lost work days?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, back injuries affect more than one million people every year and account for 20% of on-the-job injuries. The only thing that costs more in lost work is the common cold.

Sprains, strains and herniated discs are very common -- and as people get older, it can take just one wrong move to throw out your back. However, some occupations are harder on workers' backs than others. Occupational health and safety experts say that you're in particular danger if you are a:

1. Nursing home worker or nurse

These jobs aren't easy. You often have to lift or support patients who are sick and frail. That can take a serious toll on someone's spine and back. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 80% of back and shoulder injuries among these workers are caused by moving a patient.

2. Construction worker

Repetitive motions are part of almost any construction job -- and that's a big problem for the human body to handle. About 30% of construction workers end up losing time from work because of neck, back and shoulder strains. However, you're also at increased risk for major spinal damage because falls are common in the industry.

3. Warehouse employee

Warehouse jobs are plentiful in this age of online shopping. They require a lot of lifting, bending, reaching, stretching, kneeling, carrying and toting. These things are hard on the back and spine. You also run the risk of more serious spinal injuries if you end up in an accident while operating a lift.

A back injury can lay you up for days and cost thousands of dollars in medical bills. In some cases, you may never be able to return to your previous occupation. Workers' compensation is supposed to be there to help. Unfortunately, insurance companies often play games to avoid paying. If you're having trouble collecting what you are due after you suffer a back injury at work, find out more about your rights.

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