Back injuries are prevalent in the forestry sector, the labour department said on Thursday.

“The pain and suffering affects thousands of workers each year as well as their families, communities and workplaces,” occupational health director Milly Ruiters said at a forestry seminar in White River, Mpumalanga, according to a statement from her office.

Research showed that sprains, strains and tears continued to be the leading nature of injury, with the back being the most commonly injured body part in the forestry sector.

Ruiters said among problems facing the department's compensation commission were late registration of occupational injuries or disease claims by employers. Other obstacles were delays in payment of compensation benefits due to non-submission of banking details, and employers not registering with the compensation fund.

She said almost R3 billion was paid to employees and service providers following accidents suffered by workers in the 2009/10

financial year.

“The amount paid in 2009/10 represents an increase of R441 793 500 on the previous financial year,” Ruiters said. - Sapa