14 Aug 2013
Improperly lifting a heavy object or accidentally twisting while carrying a heavy load aren’t the only ways to suffer a back injury while at work. Painful back injuries also can be caused by slips and falls, tripping over obstacles, and improperly using moving equipment such as manual jacks and dollies.
Besides the physical environment of the workplace, there are other factors that also can contribute to back injuries, including:
- Being Out of Shape — Back muscles require strong stomach muscles to provide proper support. If your stomach muscles are weak or flabby, you may be more likely to suffer a back injury.
- Poor Posture — Your spine has a natural “S” shape that is optimal for support weight while lifting. When you lean forward when you sit, hunch over when you are standing or otherwise have poor posture, this can weaken the spine over time.
- Being Overweight — Carrying additional weight on your body can add to the weight-to-force fulcrum proportion when you lift heavy objects because your body weight is also being supported by your back.
- Stress and Anxiety — Being stressed out causes muscle tension, making them more susceptible to injury.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
One of the best ways to avoid suffering a back injury is to avoid lifting heavy objects by yourself. If you think an object may be too heavy for you to lift, why take the chance that you could hurt yourself, potentially causing you to miss work and lose income? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply ask for help?
Recognizing your physical limitations and abilities is critical to avoiding injury. Many people who suffered back injuries in the workplace did so because they were simply afraid to ask for help.
Set Yourself Up for Safety
Another way to avoid back injures is to develop good lifting habits, the first of which is to avoid lifting and bending whenever you can. Whenever possible, place heavy objects on a table or workbench rather than on the floor, where you will have to bend over to lift them.
Raise or lower shelves in your work area so that they are at the optimal height for lifting. Shelves that are too low or too high can cause you to strain your back when placing weight upon them. Heavier objects should be placed on shelves that are at waist level and lower shelves can be reserved for lighter objects.
In our final entry in Avoiding Injuries in the Workplace, we will examine some proper lifting procedures that could save your back from injury. You can improve your chances of not getting hurt by using ergonomic equipment and other safety tools offered by Bahrns.