Prevent Back Injuries: Lifting Safety Tips

cartoon imagfe of female lifting a bucket

According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. It is hoped that the following check list and information might help you to avoid a back injury.

Have you checked the object before you try to lift it?
* Be sure to test every load before you lift by pushing the object lightly with your hands or feet to see how easily it moves. This tells you about how heavy it is.
* Remember, a small size does not always mean a light load.

Is the load you want to lift packed correctly?
* Make sure the weight is balanced and packed so it won't move around. Loose pieces inside a box can cause accidents if the box becomes unbalanced. Repack the load if necessary to stabilize it.

Is it easy to grip this load?
* Be sure you have a tight grip on the object before you lift it.
* Handles may help you lift the load safely but don't overload the handles or strain yourself just because you can get a better grip on the load.

Is it easy to reach this load?
* You can be injured more easily if you arch your back when lifting a load over your head. Use a ladder when you're lifting something over your head and don't arch your back.

What's the best way to pick up an object?
* Use slow and smooth movements. Hurried, jerky movements can strain the muscles in your back.
* Keep your body facing the object while you lift it. Twisting while lifting can hurt your back.
* Keep the load close to your body. Having to reach out to lift and carry an object may hurt your back.
* "Lifting with your legs" should be done only when you can straddle the load. To lift with your legs, bend your knees, not your back, to pick up the load. Keep your back straight.
* Try to carry the load in the space between your shoulder and your waist. This puts less strain on your back muscles.

How can I avoid back injuries?
* Pace yourself. Take many small breaks between lifts if you are lifting a number of things.
* Don't overdo it--don't try to lift something too heavy for you. If you have to strain to carry the load, it's too heavy. If a load is too heavy, consider breaking it down into smaller, lighter loads or seek help.
* Before you lift, make sure you have enough room to do it safely. Clear a space around the object before lifting it if necessary. Also, make certain that the pathway to your destination is clear.
* Look around before you lift, and look around as you carry. Make sure you can see where you are walking. Know where you are going to put down the load and make sure it is clear before you move your load.
* Avoid walking on slippery, uneven, cluttered surfaces while carrying something.
* Don't rely on a back belt to protect you.
* Get help before you try to lift a heavy load. Consider using a dolly or a forklift when necessary.

Please, be careful and don't become a back injury statistic.