Tips to Avoid a Workplace Injury Due to Lifting or Pushing Objects
by: Jerry Nicklow, AAI, API, AIS
Many jobs require lifting and pushing in one form or another as part of the routine job description. Employees that frequently lift or push objects need to be aware that lifting, pushing, and over reaching can cause strains and sprains. Such injuries typically affect the back, arms, and shoulders and are caused by improper handling techniques. If your job requires you to push, pull or lift during the day, make sure you know how to perform these activities properly.
The first issue to keep in mind is that most strains and sprains happen because people lift objects that weigh too much. Before lifting anything, size up the load to determine if you have the physical strength to lift without straining. If you don't possess the physical capability, you can either break it down into smaller loads, if applicable, or seek help from a co-worker. If you use carts or hand trucks, be sure they are in good operating condition. These devices can put additional strain on your back if they don't work correctly or if you overload them.
If it is within your physical capability to lift the load, then be sure that you use the correct procedure. Stand close to the object. Then squat down and bend your knees, not your back. Grip the object firmly and lift slowly. As you lift, straighten your legs until you are standing erect. Carry the load close to your body near your waist. Never lift the object above your shoulders. If you have to turn while lifting, point your feet in the direction you'll be heading; don't twist your back.
If you must push or pull a load, bend your knees and use your legs and the weight of your body to move it. Take small steps and keep your stomach muscles tightened. You should lean slightly into the load if you are pushing, and lean slightly out if pulling. Note that it's always better for your body if you can push rather than pull an object.
Repeatedly lifting heavy objects is the most common cause of strains and sprains. However, injuries can also happen as a result of lifting moderate loads in awkward positions or remaining in a bent-over or twisted position for long periods of time. Remember, the further the load is from your body, the greater strain placed on your back. You should always attempt to position any load you are carrying at waist level. Keep your body as close to the work area as is safely possible. And most importantly, never overestimate your physical ability to lift or carry an object.
And should you be unfortunate enough to suffer a workplace injury, make sure you immediately report it to your immediate supervisor. You do not want any issues when dealing with a Workers Compensation Insurance Claim.
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