Musculoskeletal injuries are one of the most common workplace compensation claims. Often both severe and costly, back injuries can arise from several ergonomic exposures including heavy lifting, forceful movement, awkward positions, and poor workplace set up.
Back injuries often occur when an individual lifting an object is:
· Using improper lifting techniques such as lifting with the back and not the legs
· Lifting an object that is too heavy
· Twisting while lifting or carrying objects
· Repetitive lifting during a work task
Ways to prevent back injuries
· Elimination – the best way to protect individuals against back injuries is to eliminate as many lifts as possible during the workday. Using equipment such as forklifts, genie lifts, pulleys, trolleys etc are the best way to eliminate general handling and lifting of smaller objects by hand. Large or heavy objects that pose a hazard should be broken into smaller safer loads when possible.
· Engineering – set up work areas that are ergonomically friendly to all employees. Mechanical lifting devices, conveyor belts, proper shelving and storage areas that keep objects and lifts within optimal range will keep employees from making awkward or dangerous lifts that can result in sprains.
· Administrative – Through your procedures etc, Set a weight limit for lifting objects if you can and implement two-man lifts or the requirement for a mechanical lifting aid for anything over that limit.
Pay attention to what your body is doing!
· Posture – when standing balance your weight evenly on your feet and try not to slouch. When sitting, choose an ergonomic chair with back support. Adjust chair height so that your feet lay flat on the floor.
· Lifting – when lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy, ask for help.
· Repetitive tasks – try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. Use mechanical aides or lifting devices when available to help lift loads. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting, and reaching.
· If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position often. Walk around and gently stretch muscles to relieve tension at regular intervals during the day.
All workers should keep an eye on one another, sing out and ask for help. It may help to implement new changes and prevent further injury or incidents from occurring in the workplace.
Phoebe and Rusty – Trade Safety