Injuries related to lifting continue to be a leading occupational health and safety issue. According to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, more than one-third of all work-related injuries involve harm to the shoulder and or back that often results from heavy lifting. Injuries caused as a result of lifting include sprains, strains, neural related, neuromuscular related injuries and bone-related injuries; each can affect any part of the body although the majority occurs on the lower back.
Because most jobs involve some form of lifting most workers are at risk of injury. Training employees on proper lifting procedures and techniques is critical in preventing painful and expensive injuries in the workplace. It takes a full understanding of potential hazards and habits needed to make good lifting decisions every time. Also implementing consistent coaching on safe lifting and handling techniques for employees whose jobs involve continuous lifting for an extended period of time on a day to day is beneficial in maintaining the proper skills required.
It is the employer’s responsibility for providing a safe workplace for their employees. Enforcing safe lifting practices and taking the time to listen and encourage employees to voice their concerns on any potential hazards that they may have spotted in their workplace can substantially reduce the chances of an injury.
Following are a few key steps of safe lifting and handling:
- Use pallet jacks and hand trucks to transport heavy items.
- Move items close to your body and use your legs when lifting an item from a low location
- Avoid twisting, especially when bending forward while lifting. Turn by moving the feet rather than twisting the torso
- Keep your elbows close to your body and keep the load as close to your body as possible
- Keep the vertical distance of lifts between mid-thigh and shoulder height. Do not start a lift below mid-thigh height nor end the lift above shoulder height. Lifting from below waist height puts stress on legs, knees, and back. Lifting above shoulder height puts stress on the upper back, shoulders, and arm
- Rotate tasks so employees are not exposed to the same activity for too long
- Take regular breaks and break tasks into shorter segments. This will give muscles adequate time to rest. Working through breaks increases the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), accidents, and reduces the quality of work because employees are over fatigued.
Strengthening muscles in the back and supporting muscles and maintaining proper posture will also help prevent injuries and back disorders. A list of five easy lower back stretches and workouts to increase back strength and prevent injury can be found on the NOVA website.
Nova Medical Centers provides the highest level of healthcare to patients suffering from musculoskeletal injuries. With a sole focus on occupational health, we pride ourselves in delivering exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety needs. Contact us for more information about any of our services. Our skilled and friendly staff members are ready to meet all your occupational health needs.