According to OSHA, back disorders are a leading cause of disability for people in their working years, afflicting more than 600,000 employees each year. These injuries can be caused by improper execution of job-related tasks, such as lifting. However, following proper lifting techniques in the workplace can prevent back injuries as well as the economic burdens associated with such incidents.
Employee training is vital for injury prevention, and facility managers should encourage employees to follow these four important steps:
1. Bend at the knees to take stress off the lower back
It’s very important to bend at the knees when lifting heavy objects to avoid straining or further worsening any pre-existing back conditions. First, get as close as you can to the object as if you’re hugging it. Having the object close to your body puts less strain on your lower back. Second, never bend over the object. Instead, bend your knees and squat in front of the object. Make sure you keep yourself in an upright position as you pick up the object. Third, turn with your feet and not with your back after you rise off the ground. Your back isn’t made to twist from side to side repetitively.
2. Keep good posture when lifting heavy objects
Maintaining good posture is key to lifting heavy objects without injury. Keep your head up and look straight while lifting. Along with your posture, keep your stomach muscles tight. If you feel like holding your breath while lifting, don’t. Holding your breath can lead to unsafe increases in blood pressure and could cause serious injuries.
3. Maintain a slow and steady pace
The phrase, “slow and steady wins the race” can also apply to lifting heavy objects. The best way to lift them is to go slowly and carefully. The strongest muscles in your body are in your legs, so leverage your lower body strength, along with your upper body, to safely and slowly lift heavy objects.
4. Be safe at all times
Make sure you use common sense and good judgment before performing a task at work. If the object is too heavy, don’t try to lift it by yourself. Ask for assistance.
OSHA also recommends storing heavy objects at waist level and providing lift-assist devices or lift tables to prevent injuries. Creating a safe environment for employees also includes daily reinforcement of safety policies and procedures. Be smart when it comes to lifting and know your weight limits. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Facility managers should also ensure employees receive proper training, such as lifting safety and equipment safety training. To learn more about proper lifting techniques, contact GCA Services Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.