Everyone knows lifting heavy objects is not safe. Or do they?
Strains—primarily due to lifting—are one of the top three loss drivers of workers compensation claims. Clearly many employees are either unaware of lifting dangers, misjudging potential danger, or simply untrained in proper lifting techniques.
Lifting injuries occur in many work situations: putting that item on the shelf; improper workstation or conveyor height forcing repetitive back motions while adding or removing objects; or loading/unloading trucks and cargo containers.
You may be thinking, "But I don’t have any of those operations, so it's not a problem for us." Do you have a dumpster? Employees commonly lift items above shoulder height or even above their head to heave them into a dumpster—both positions far more likely to lead to a lifting injury than if the same items were held at waist level. Add in the potential strains arising from picking up the item to be disposed of from its original location, carrying it to the dumpster, and perhaps the twisting and turning to heave the item over the edge, and dumpsters become a key risk for lifting injuries.
How do you prevent or at least minimize strain and lifting injuries? Here are a few tips from the experts at Business and Legal Resources (BLR), organized to assist businesses in complying with state and federal legal requirements, many of which relate to on-the-job safety:
- Always lift with your legs, not your back. Squat and lift; never bend and lift.
- Know where you're going. Planning a route will make you aware of obstacles along the way and remember that the shortest route is not always the safest.
- Keep a clear line of sight. Don't let the object you are carrying block your visibility.
- Use your legs to do the heavy lifting, not your arms.
- Hold objects close to your body; do not stretch your arms out to lift something over your head.
- Never be afraid to ask for help. If there are stronger backs in your workplace, take advantage of them. Most would agree: Asking for help is less embarrassing than having to wear a brace for six weeks.
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