Back Injury Prevention
Introduction: Proper lifting techniques are paramount to preventing back injuries in the workplace. OSHA reports that every year thousands of employees needlessly injure themselves due to improper back injury prevention. Back injury is one of the most common injuries on the job-site. Ironically, back injuries are also one of the most preventable types of workplace injury! Proper lifting techniques such as lifting with the legs and not the back will ensure these nagging injuries never occur.
Some Steps to Prevent Back Problems:
- Stretching your legs and back is imperative prior to lifting any objects.
- If you are sitting for extended periods, get up and stretch periodically.
- If your back is sore, ice the sore area; applying heat to a recent injury increases swelling.
- Practice proper posture; poor posture weakens the back.
- Exercise your abdominal muscles; a strong stomach reduces the chance of back injury.
- If working in a stationary, standing position for lengthy periods, use floor pads, rugs, or carpet to help prevent back fatigue.
- If working at a desk or bench for extended periods, ensure that the chair and desk, or bench, are adjusted for your height.
- Walking for extended periods can help to keep back muscles loose and posture straight.
- A regular exercise routine will help your back stay strong and injury free.
Proper Lifting Techniques are Necessary to Prevent Back Injuries:
- Have a supervisor or a competent worker demonstrate the proper method of bending and lifting.
- Size up the load before you lift. Test by lifting one of the corners or pushing. If it’s heavy or feels too clumsy, get help from another worker. When in doubt, do not lift alone!
- Make sure your grip is secure and your lifting motion is unobstructed.
- Bend your knees, keeping your back as straight as possible when raising or lowering the object
- Lift smoothly and straight up. Let your legs do the work, not your back! Keep your feet at shoulder width, close to the object, and center your body over the object when lifting ALL objects.
- Do not twist your body when lifting an object. Turn your whole body by changing foot position.
- Do not lift heavy objects above or away from your body.
- Stop lifting immediately if a sharp pain develops during, before, or after you lift.
- Do not exceed your lifting capabilities. If you can tell you are having problems lifting an object, ask for assistance or use a lifting device.
- Always push a load on a cart or dolly, do not pull it.
- Split the load into several smaller ones when you can. If it is a long or awkward load, get some help.
- Use mechanical lifting devices whenever possible.
Conclusion: Although back problems are one of the most common types of pain and disability, most back injuries are completely preventable by using proper lifting techniques, and maintaining good physical condition. A well-toned body can take unexpected stress or strain better than one suffering from lack of exercise. Report any injuries to the supervisor immediately.