Back Safety in the Workplace
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), back injuries are the nation’s number one workplace safety problem. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that one million plus workers suffer back injuries each year.
In America, we spend more than $100 billion annually in medical bills, disability and lost productivity at work from back injuries and illnesses. Low back pain is the second most common reason that people miss work. One fourth of all workers compensation indemnity claims are a result of back injuries. A BLS survey shows that 75% of back injuries occurred while performing lifting tasks. With proper lifting techniques, back injuries caused by lifting can be significantly reduced.
Warm-up the body to prepare for work:
- Low Back Rotation Stretch: Stand with hands on hips and gently roll the upper body in a slow, gentle circle to stretch the back. Rotate 5 times, increasing the circle size with each rotation. Repeat in the opposite direction.
- Hamstring & Achilles Stretch: Position the body with one leg forward and bend forward at the waist, stretching the back of the thigh and knee. Keep the back leg straight and heel on floor. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, 2 times for each leg.
Safe lifting preparation recommendations:
- Know the object weight.
- Determine whether it’s safe for one person to lift.
- Ensure that the work area and pathway are dry and clear of debris.
- Use ergonomic equipment, lift assists, forklift, dolly, cart, hand truck, or hoist.
- Train to operate equipment safely.
- Ask for help for heavy or awkward loads.
- Wear proper protective shoes and gloves.
Lifting techniques for safety:
- Stand close to the object.
- Use a wide stance with one foot forward for balance.
- Lower down to a squat with the back straight, using the legs and hips.
- Grasp the object with both hands, but on opposite corners of the object.
- Hold the object close to the body.
- Keep the back straight, lifting slowly, powering up with tightened core muscles, using the hips and legs to do the work.
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