Back Injury: Causes and Prevention

Originally published 11/01/2017

Back injuries are among the most common workplace injury, even in construction. Once injured, the back can become a life-long source of recurrent pain and potential re-injury that often surgery and medication cannot fix.

The causes of back injuries include:

  • Reaching while lifting,
  • Poor posture,
  • Staying in one position for too long,
  • Poor physical condition,
  • Repetitive lifting,
  • Twisting or bending while lifting,
  • Heavy lifting,
  • Fatigue,
  • Poor footing and
  • Vibrations, such as in lift trucks or delivery trucks.

Back injury can be prevented if you:

  • Minimize the weight, range of motion and frequency of the activity.
  • Plan ahead. Decide how you are going to pick up a load, carry it and set it down, then check the route for obstructions. Always get assistance if the load is too heavy or too awkward.
  • Get as close to the load as possible before lifting. The further the load is from the center line of your body, the greater the strain imposed on your back.
  • Reduce the size or weight of the object(s) being lifted.
  • If possible, push rather than pull an object.
  • Make sure your material handling equipment has handles that can be easily grasped while in an upright posture.
  • Elevate bins and containers and tilt them if possible, to improve access to the materials inside the containers.
  • Provide lift-assist devices.

Remember, too, that stretching before beginning work helps to warm up muscles and prevent strains and sprains. Strength and fitness training can also benefit workers. Rotating employees, providing short breaks every hour or so or using a two-person lift may be helpful in reducing injury as well.

Reducing repetitive stress and acute back injuries by improving workplace ergonomics and worker training improves health and productivity – a win-win for workers and employers.

Download the recording form here.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Annual Report Shows Deficit

Source: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

PBGC Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report Shows Increasing Deficit in Multiemployer Program

WASHINGTON – The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation today released its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report showing the deficit in its multiemployer insurance program rose to $58.8 billion. The increase was driven by additional multiemployer plans that are expected to run out of money within the next 10 years, and by decreases in interest factors used to value PBGC’s liabilities.

PBGC’s single-employer insurance program showed improvement; its deficit narrowed from $24.1 billion, at the end of FY 2015, to $20.6 billion at the end of FY 2016. This was primarily due to investment and premium income and a low level of plan terminations during the year.

“The improvement in the financial condition of the single-employer program is a welcome result. However, it is clear that more reform is needed to stabilize multiemployer pension plans and to extend the solvency of PBGC’s multiemployer program,” said PBGC Director Tom Reeder. “First and foremost, we need to protect the promises that have already been made to workers and retirees. We are committed to working with Congress on long-term solutions that include increasing multiemployer premium revenues and reforming the premium structure.”

PBGC’s mission is to enhance retirement security by preserving pension plans and protecting participants’ benefits. PBGC protects the pension benefits of nearly 40 million Americans in private-sector pension plans and PBGC is already responsible for the benefits of about 1.5 million people in failed plans who otherwise may have lost their pensions. The agency operates two separate insurance programs: one that covers single-employer plans, and another that insures multiemployer plans. By law, the two insurance programs are operated and financed separately.

Multiemployer Program Deficit Rises to $58.8 Billion

As of September 30, 2016, PBGC’s multiemployer program had liabilities of $61.0 billion and assets of only $2.2 billion, resulting in a negative net position or “deficit” of $58.8 billion, up from $52.3 billion a year earlier. During FY 2016, PBGC provided $113 million in financial assistance to 65 insolvent multiemployer plans, an increase from the previous year of $103 million paid to 57 plans. PBGC’s obligations to provide financial assistance will increase dramatically in the coming years, when more and larger multiemployer plans run out of money and require PBGC assistance to provide benefits at the guarantee level set by law.

PBGC’s multiemployer program income is very small relative to its deficit, and to the increase in its liabilities during FY 2016.  Income for the multiemployer program totaled $425 million, comprised of $282 million in premium revenue and $143 million in investment income.  In contrast, multiemployer program liabilities increased by $6.8 billion. This was primarily due to a drop in interest factors used to measure the value of PBGC’s future financial assistance payments, and the identification of 11 additional multiemployer plans that terminated or are projected to run out of money within the next 10 years.

In the most recent Projections Report, PBGC estimated that its multiemployer program is likely to run out of  money by the end of 2025, and that there is considerable risk that it could run out before then. If the multiemployer insurance program becomes insolvent, PBGC will only be able to provide enough financial assistance to pay a small fraction of guaranteed benefits in insolvent plans.

Single-employer Program Deficit Shrinks to $20.6 Billion

As of September 30, 2016, PBGC’s single-employer program had liabilities of $117.9 billion and assets of $97.3 billion, resulting in a negative net position or “deficit” of $20.6 billion. In FY 2016, the agency paid $5.7 billion in benefits to nearly 840,000 retirees from more than 4,700 failed single-employer plans. The figures are up slightly from $5.6 billion paid to about 826,000 retirees during the previous year.

During FY 2016, PBGC assumed responsibility for more than 46,000 additional people in 76 trusteed single-employer plans. As in recent years, however, PBGC did not incur any large losses from completed or probable plan terminations.

Customer Satisfaction

Providing excellent customer service is among PBGC’s top priorities. Each year, many retirees served by PBGC consistently rank the agency among the best in the public and private sectors. In FY 2016, PBGC scored 90 out of 100 among retirees on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

About PBGC’s FY 2016 Financial Report

PBGC’s financial statements are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. For FY 2016 PBGC received an unmodified audit opinion on its financial statements as well as an unqualified audit opinion on internal control over financial reporting. CliftonLarsonAllen LLP performed the audit under contract with PBGC’s Office of Inspector General, which oversaw the audit.

About PBGC

PBGC protects the pension benefits of nearly 40 million Americans in private-sector pension plans. The agency is currently responsible for the benefits of about 1.5 million people in failed pension plans. PBGC receives no taxpayer dollars. Its operations are financed by insurance premiums, investment income, and with assets and recoveries from failed single-employer plans. For more information, visit