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Preventing Back Injuries

22 Mar 2013

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At the warehouse it is important to know that your employer has your back — both literally and figuratively. Preventing back injuries is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that you will have a future well-being physically and mentally. Back injuries are serious and while there are procedures and medication which can help aide the pain, individuals with back injuries rarely return to full strength. After years of wear and tear their back has finally had enough and the consequences are quite often severe.

How do you prevent back injuries?

There are a few simple steps, some of which you have heard quite frequently (bend your knees not your back, etc) and others not so commonly lectured which will help you take the necessary precautions to hopefully avoid back problems entirely.

Safe Lifting Zone

The bottom line: any time you can avoid lifting and bending do it. Otherwise known as the ‘safe lifting zone’, this method basically means keeping as many items as possible off the floor. As a result, you do less bending and ultimately place less strain on your back.

The best zone for lifting is between your shoulders and waist. Consequently, you should raise/lower shelves to accommodate this level for your heaviest objects. Lighter objects, meanwhile, may be placed on lower or higher shelves. The fewer objects you have on the floor the better for your back. If your warehouse lacks adequate shelving consider talking to your immediate supervisor about your concern.

Proper Lifting Procedures

When you do have to lift an object, make sure that you do it correctly. The most important step is to place less pressure on your back by fully bending your knees. When you bend your knees you keep your spine aligned which essentially removes the lever principle forces. The goal is to remember your legs, not your back must do the work.

Stretching is another good tip yet unfortunately very few blue collar workers actually do this every day before work. Another frequently ignored tip is that the goal is not to rush your body. Your supervisor may demand that the shipment gets moved as soon as possible yet it’s not worth risking your back. And, of course, whenever there are tools which help you lift or carry items use it!

Body Management

The best practice for preventing back injuries is body management. When you pay attention to how your body is positioned when lifting objects you will avoid a lot of problems down the road. Therefore, understand your body’s limitations and if you are getting older, do not be afraid to assign a task to a younger individual and/or inform your immediate supervisor that you will have trouble lifting/carrying the weight. There is no shame in understanding your limitations and the result is a healthier lifestyle after retirement. Remember, that is the ultimate key.

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