If your workplace requires heavy lifting of objects, then your employees might be at an increased risk of a hernia. For National Hernia Awareness Month in June, you can raise public knowledge of the warning signs and help employees stay safe with the right tools and training.
What is a hernia?
Hernias form when an organ protrudes through an opening in a tissue or muscle that keeps it in place.
A person at risk of having a hernia may be more likely to develop one if he or she has a job that is a higher risk for hernias. Hernias are often caused by a lack of training in manual handling and lifting heavy objects without the required equipment.
Is there more than one type of hernia?
Various types of hernia exist: inguinal, hiatal, umbilical, and incisional. One sign of a hernia is a lump or bulge in the hernia’s area. While inguinal and hiatal hernias have symptoms, other hernias don’t show any signs.
Inguinal hernia: this occurs when tissues pass through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. These are some of the most common of hernias. People in jobs that involve heavy lifting are at greater risk of developing an inguinal hernia, causing pain and discomfort. If left untreated, long-term injuries and illnesses can develop and require medical attention.
Symptoms of an inguinal hernia:
- Pain when bending over, coughing, or lifting
- An aching, gurgling, or burning sensation in the area of the hernia bulge
- A feeling of heaviness or weakness in the abdomen
Hiatal hernia: this occurs near the chest cavity when stomach tissues protrude up through the diaphragm because of another injury or heavy lifting.
Symptoms of a hiatal hernia include:
- Aches and pains in the chest
- Having a difficult time swallowing
- Acid reflux
Umbilical Hernia: this is when the intestines bulge through the inside of the abdomen near the belly button.
Irrigation hernia: this happens after surgery as the intestines push through the weak tissue surrounding the incision. This is common in elderly people.
What can cause a hernia in the workplace?
Hernias result from repeated pressure that is placed on the abdominal muscles when workplace activities are carried out incorrectly. This can cause continuous discomfort and can cause a hernia.
Lack of lifting tools
The employer may be at fault for injuries caused by unsuitable or defective tools if employees work when lifting is an everyday occurrence, and they have no tools to be used safely and prevent hernias.
Untrained manual handling skills
Lifting a heavy object incorrectly can lead to a hernia. The tension in the muscles causes the tissue to weaken, leading to a hernia.
How to prevent hernias at work
Every employer has the responsibility to protect the health and safety of employees at work. An employer should provide the right tools for employees to lift heavy objects such as pallets. Employers can also implement a wellness program that encourages healthy eating habits and more physical exercise to help keep employees in shape.
To reduce the chances of workplace accidents and injuries, employees need proper training on how to lift properly and should follow company safety standards. Stabilizing belts can provide support to the lower back of employees, reducing the possibility of developing a hernia when lifting heavy objects.
Heavy objects should be handled with tools. Employees should be educated and informed about safety standards throughout their careers.
When your workplace health and safety practices are strengthened, you are likely to notice positive effects on employee health. This will help to lower the employees’ risks of developing hernias.