Have you ever had an employee unable to work due to a back injury? If you have, you are not alone, as many employers deal with this serious workplace issue. By following a few simple tips, you can help reduce back injuries at your facility, which makes for a healthier staff and potential savings in insurance costs.
1. Know your load. It’s important to know the weight of any item you’re carrying. Items that are obviously heavy or larger than what you can comfortably wrap your arms around require assistance, so get help to share the load.
2. Keep it close. By keeping the item close to your body, your back, arm and leg muscles help move the load. The greater the distance, the more excessive strain is being exerted. Lift in a smooth motion, not like a weightlifter!
3. Kneel, don’t bend. When moving items on the floor, bending at the waist creates significant stress on your back. Kneel close to the item with your back vertical to the ground. Like a paperclip, repeated bending and twisting can weaken and injure the spine.
4. Don’t do the twist! Injuries can occur prior to taking your first step! It’s easy to injure your back by twisting at the waist. Use your legs to begin your turning motion by stepping out, which keeps your item squarely in front of you.
5. Easy does it. Make sure to place the item down in a smooth motion and if working with someone, move together as a team. Protect your partner as much as yourself when moving items from point to point!
6. Work from a table height surface. Stack items that you use routinely at table height whenever possible, as it is safer to move a box when elevated from the floor. If the item is being stacked or moved from an overhead area, use a ladder to help you safely secure and move the item. Overhead objects can fall quickly if the load is not properly secured or the weight is greater than what you can safely carry.
7. Clear the area. Cluttered walkways can create a hazard when moving from one area to the next. Make sure your pathway is clear and free from debris.
8. Educate, educate, educate! Take time to educate your employees on the proper lifting techniques. Hands-on demonstrations and ongoing reinforcement by your managers and supervisors help foster a safer working environment. Working safely should always be a 24/7 requirement.
9. Get expert help! Contact your insurance agent for ideas on how you can implement safety procedures at your facility. Also, seek expert advice from a local medical facility, as they may have training programs available and could provide literature or demonstrations to your employees.
These tips apply to everyone in your operation, whether you employ factory workers or clerical workers. A little prevention could go a long way!