Experiencing a back injury at work can range from a simple strain to a chronic, life-altering injury. For workers required to routinely lift heavy objects, practicing smart lifting techniques can mean the difference between never having an injury and experiencing an injury that has significant consequences.
How frequently do back injuries occur?
Work-related back injuries are fairly common. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 1 out of every 5 work-related illnesses or injuries that employees experience is related to the spinal region. Put another way, every year, more than 1 million people experience a back-related injury while on the job.
Back-related injuries are significant for both the employee who feels (perhaps permanently) the pain and suffering from such an injury, and the companies they work for, in terms of lost productivity, employee turnover and billions paid in indemnity claims. It’s in the best interests of both employees and employers to practice and encourage the use of safe lifting techniques.
The safe way to lift heavy objects
Use alternative methods — Smart lifting practices may mean not lifting an object at all. Instead, safely lifting a heavy object may involve using a forklift or hand truck to transport a heavy item from one area to another. If no machinery is available, asking a fellow employee for a hand can be an effective way to distribute the load of a heavy object.
Plan your path — It’s important to consider the terrain you’ll be navigating. Clear away any obstructions before lifting and consider using an alternative path if the primary one is slippery, has uneven surfaces or contains a significant number of stairs.
Practice proper lifting techniques — Whether you’re going to lift an object on your own or you’re planning to partner with another person, it’s important for everyone involved to practice smart lifting techniques.
Begin with getting as close to the object as possible, then bend at the knees while keeping your back straight. Grasp the object using a secure grip. Using a smooth motion (no twisting or jerking), straighten your knees to lift the object. As you carry the object, continue to hold it close to your body. When you’re ready to set the object down, bend your knees while keeping your back straight. Don’t let go of the object until you know it’s securely in place. Last, straighten your knees and return to a standing position.
By planning ahead and consistently practicing proper lifting techniques, employees reduce their risk of injury so they can remain productive members of the team.
If you’re experiencing work-related back pain, Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine is here to help! We specialize in treating orthopedic work injuries quickly and effectively while navigating worker’s compensation claims. Don’t let pain from a back injury stop you from enjoying life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.