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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
DEC 28, 2017
Back-Saving Tips for Lifting and Bending Safely
Do you know what one of the leading causes for missed work days is? Lifting and bending work-related injuries. If fact, they account for 34 percent of all work-related injuries each year. Most of these types of injuries are due to overexertion and gradual trauma of the back or shoulders from incorrect and unsafe lifting techniques.
Sometimes knowing the common causes and hazards of injuries can help prevent them. Lifting and bending injuries can be caused by:
– Any object over 50 pounds, such as large spools of wire, bundles of conduit, or heavy tools, can cause serious stress to the ligaments, muscles, and joints of your shoulders and back.
– Bending, twisting and reaching while lifting forces the back to support both the body and load’s weight, overexerting your muscles. Also, carrying loads on one shoulder, under one arm, or with one hand can create unsafe pressure on the spine. The risk for awkward posturing increases when loads have inadequate handholds.
High frequency or long duration lifting
– Supporting material for an extended period of time, such as when installing wiring, can increase risk for back or shoulder injury by denying muscles nutrients, allowing for the buildup of waste products and causing fatigue.
– Extreme temperatures can decrease muscle flexibility, or lead to dehydration and fatigue. Also, poor housekeeping or low visibility in warehouses can lead to slips and falls.
You can help save your workers from these injuries by using smart lifting practices and implementing strength testing. You may want to consider implementing the following solutions at your workplace:
Lighten the load
– Reduce load weight by breaking them down into smaller quantities. When possible, use mechanical means, such as forklifts or duct lifts to carry loads too heavy to be carried by hand. Also, make use of ramps and lift gates when possible.
– Avoid awkward moves by using smart lifting practices. Begin by moving items close to your body, and bend your knees so the object is at mid-thigh or mid-chest height. Then, be sure to lift with your legs, not your back. When you need to turn, do so with your feet. Always avoid twisting your torso. If an object does not have adequate handholds, use the proper personal protective equipment, like gloves, to avoid unnecessary strain on the hands or use suction devices. Ask your supplier to place materials in containers with handholds.
– When installing wiring or doing other high frequency and long duration lifting, take frequent breaks or rotate often with other employees. Also, use stands, jigs, mechanical lifting and pre-assemble fixtures or boxes as much as possible before installation.
– Keep your worksite safe by adjusting work schedules to avoid extreme temperatures and require your employees to wear the proper protective equipment. Also, be sure to provide proper lighting and keep the site organized and free from spills and debris.
You also can prevent bending and lifting injuries in your workplace through strength testing your employees. Strength testing has shown to decrease almost one-third of all work-related injuries. You can determine which employees should be completing which lifts, as well as discourage unsafe lifting practices.
You might also want to consider implementing stretching or physical conditioning programs at the workplace. This can help workers be more prepared to lift heavy loads and prevent overexertion injuries. You are responsible for training all of your employees to lift safely using proper lifting techniques.
To learn more about how to protect your workers from lifting and bending injuries, contact your Amerisure Loss Control Consultant at (800) 257-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.