Back Injury Prevention
New Braunfels, TX, April 19, 2023
Back injuries can be extremely painful and long-lasting. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the back injuries of more than 1 million workers account for nearly 20 percent of all injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Only the common cold accounts for more lost days of work. Safe lifting procedures and load-carrying techniques are crucial to preventing painful and expensive injuries in the workplace. Unfortunately, most workers do not consistently utilize proper back safety practices, even at great risk to their personal well-being. The most common back injuries are often caused by unsafe lifting and carrying of heavy or awkward objects. Although back injuries are common in the workplace, the Ontivity family of companies believes that all back injuries are preventable through proper execution of the following three bullet points…
PLAN YOUR WORK THEN WORK YOUR PLAN
As with anything, a good plan is often times the key to success. As part of the plan, we must conduct a hazard assessment and address manual material handling hazards and preventative measures to be taken. This assessment must consider size, bulk and the weight of the object or objects in which you are carrying. You must also consider if it requires a two-man lift or if mechanical lifting equipment is required. When possible, employees should use manual lifting equipment instead of performing manual lifting themselves. Always survey the pathway that you will be using to check for trip hazards and other obstructions that may present a hazard. Don’t forget to consider the terrain at the site. Take into consideration that conditions or terrain might be different at the jobsite versus when you loaded the trailer at the shop and plan accordingly. Jobsite supervisors and crew leaders are expected to periodically evaluate the work area and employees’ work techniques to assess the potential for and prevention of injuries. New operations should be evaluated and, when possible, engineer out hazards before work processes are implemented.
UTLIZE PROPER LIFTING TECHNIQUES
When you look at the lifting formula, the main key is your legs. This is because they are capable of supporting more weight than the rest of your body. This is also why you commonly hear people say – lift with your legs not your back. In doing so, you should position your feet as close to the load as possible. By placing your feet as close to the load as possible, you position yourself so that you will have a good center of balance when lifting the load. Remember, never bend or arch your back while lifting. Keep the load balanced and close to your body at all times. While lifting or carrying an object, never allow your line of sight to become obstructed. If you find yourself with the need to turn, make sure to move your feet and never twist your body. Doing so induces unnecessary stress on your back and can result in serious injury. Always utilize the same techniques when setting the load down as when you are making the initial lift.
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
As with anything in life, knowing your limitations is very important. We expect all employees to utilize proper lifting techniques at all times. All loads exceeding 85 pounds must be two-man or companion lifts and must never exceed the total lifting weight of 170 pounds without the use of a mechanical lifting aid regardless of the situation. Mechanical lifting aids can be something as simple as a dolly, jack, load rope, or a piece of heavy equipment. If you are faced with a situation where an item must be lifted that is over the 170-pound mark and mechanical lifting aids are not available, consider splitting the load into smaller more manageable loads. Back braces are made available to all employees upon request should you feel it is necessary. All requests can be made at your local warehouse or requested from any Field Safety Advisor. It is important to remember that the use of a back brace does not make you superman nor does it increase your lifting capabilities! We must exercise extreme caution at all times when lifting – even when using a back brace.
If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you taken care of.