Although back injuries are one of the leading causes of disabilities for workers, these injuries are easy to prevent if proper precautions are taken.
Plan the Lift
Countless times a day, we lift objects without thinking. In order to avoid injury in the workplace, however, we need to train ourselves to think before we lift.
Before starting, plan the lift the way you would plan other tasks. Make sure you are wearing slip-resistant shoes and wipe the soles to remove any oil or food residue that may cause you to slip.
Be sure the path you are taking is free of spills, debris or other objects that can be a tripping hazard.
If wearing gloves, make sure they fit properly. Gloves that are too large can cause you to lose your grip.
Assess the load. Lift only what you can handle. If the load is too much, do not do it alone; ask for assistance.
Stretch Before You Begin
Simple stretches will prepare your muscles for the job ahead. Get into the habit of stretching before lifting and at other times throughout the day. Flexible muscles are less susceptible to injury.
What to Do When Lifting
Only attempt to lift the load if it is small, light and can easily fit between your knees.
Place a firm grip on the object, using the entire surface of both of your hands and not just your fingers.
Keep the load as close to your body as possible and let your legs do the work! Straighten your back and lift from your legs, not your back.
Avoid sudden motions. To turn, do not twist your body; use your feet to step to one side or the other.
Do not lift the load above your head or carry it on your shoulder.
If the load is not within your reach, do not reach over an obstacle to lift it; first move whatever is in the way.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you feel fatigue and discomfort, take a break and tell a supervisor.
Some loads may require the help of a co-worker. To ensure proper balance when lifting, make sure you and the co-worker are of similar height. Before attempting the lift, talk with your co-worker about how it will be done, and avoid any surprise movements that will throw your co-worker off balance.
Be good to your back; remember to take these precautions every time you lift.