Updated: Mar 3, 2022
In workplaces that require manual labor, back injuries are one of the most common causes of missed work days. Poor posture and prolonged physical exertion are the leading causes of back and shoulder problems. When a person lifts a heavy load without considering their posture, the weight is distributed unevenly across the bones, ligaments, and spine, resulting in muscle fatigue and, over time, life-threatening injuries.
According to the data released in 2001 from Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36% of workplace injuries were caused due to heavy load lifting, resulting in back injuries.
It is critical for organizations to provide adequate manual lifting training to employees, as well as refresher trainings, to ensure that they recall proper techniques while handling the loads. OSHA has provided some important recommendations and safe lifting techniques for employees as well as employers to use on a regular basis to dramatically reduce the risk of devastating back injuries:
Plan ahead of time and double-check the amount of the load before picking it up. Instead of overburdening your body, ask for help if necessary.
Stand firmly on the ground with both feet shoulder width apart and one foot slightly in front of you.
Before lifting, grip the object tightly and bring it closer to your body. Do not reach too far for the object.
Maintain a straight posture while raising the load and prevent awkward twists or rapid movements.
When necessary, use material handling aids to lessen physical exertion and repeated movements.
Heavy objects should always be stored at waist level rather than above the shoulder height.
Lifting heavy loads will always be physically challenging, but the good news is that injuries such as back sprains, muscle pulls, and spine, elbow, and wrist ailments can be avoided simply by making a few changes to our daily routines and using safe, proper lifting techniques.