Lifting Safety Tips
Back injuries are the second most common injury in Canada after hand injuries. Back problems can affect your mobility and can lead to long absences from work. There are many possible causes to back injury, from bad posture to poor lifting techniques. A bad back can be short-term, such as a strained muscle or a more serious problem with the discs of the spinal column. Whatever the cause or the type of injury, these, lifting safety tips will help prevent these from becoming an issue for you staff.
Lifting is common to many daily activities, at work and at home. Whether you are picking up something small and light like a quarter, a piece of lumber or other material at work, or trying for your personal best dead lift at the gym, proper lifting technique is important. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how strong an individual is, or how small the load, if you don’t lift it properly, you can put a lot of strain of your spine and back muscles. I had a co-worker who used to do power lifting and he hurt his back when he tried to pick up his baby daughter. One thing to remember when designing work, NIOSH has a recommended load limit of 23 kg (50lbs). Any heavier than that and it is better to start using equipment such as a hand cart to move the load
When lifting loads take these practical tips from the book “Fitting the Task to the Human” by K.H.E. Kroemer and E. Grandjean:
- Seize the load and lift it with straight back and with bent knees
- Get the load as close to the body as possible be grasping the load between the knees and by good foot placement
- Make sure your hold on the load is not lower than knee height. A lift starting at knee height can be continued easily to hip or elbow height. Lifts starting at elbow height may be continued to shoulder height, higher levels require much more strength
- If the load does not have handles, tie a rope sling around the load and use a harness or hooks
- Avoid a rotating or twisting movement of the trunk when lifting or lowering a load
- Try, whenever possible to use a mechanical such as a trolley, lifting ramp or similar mechanical aid
- Try to replace lifting and lowering by pushing and pulling
Back injuries are painful and costly, to the worker and the company. About 25% of all short-term disability claims are from back injuries. These are spread across injuries. Healthcare is a major source of back injury claims related to lifting. Whatever the industry, use these lifting safety tips to help keep you or your staff on the job.