The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that annual back injuries to more than 1 million workers make up 20% of workplace injuries and illnesses. However, with the right precautions, tools and preparation, this number can be greatly reduced.
Preventing Back Injuries
There are a number of precautions that can help workers avoid strains, pulls and tears of overused back muscles. Here are a few recommendations to help prevent back injuries:
- Perform back-strengthening exercises a minimum of twice weekly.
- Pay attention to posture by standing and sitting with your back straight.
- When possible, avoid heavy lifting. Lift heavy objects with your back straight and knees bent.
- Get active and concentrate on eating a healthy diet.
It’s also important to take breaks, stretching and moving around often. For improved posture, keep the pelvis, shoulders and head in line and stand with feet apart at shoulder width.
What are the Key Risk Factors for Back Injury?
It’s important to pay special attention to risk factors that can aggravate chronic or acute back pain.
As people age, everyday wear on the spine can result in conditions such as disc degeneration and spinal stenosis that result in neck and back pain. The following are the key risk factors for back injury:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Occupational hazards
- Excess weight
- Poor posture
Protect Your Back When Dealing with Heavy Lifts
Use equipment to help with heavy lifts. For example, electric lift tables can handle the heavy lifting in a warehouse or industrial environment. They’re ideal to use as workbenches and transporting heavy containers. Also, electric lift tables are easy to maneuver; workers use pushbuttons to lift loads to the desired height with the help of battery, instead of back, power.
For times when manual lifting is unavoidable, the following general rules may help prevent injury:
- Warm-up the muscles to prepare for the lift.
- Staying close to the object being lifted and face the direction of movement.
- A wide stance helps maintain balance.
- maintain a good grip.
- Arms should be straight with abdominal muscles tightened.
- After tucking the chin toward the chest, the list can be performed using body weight as leverage.
Workers whose jobs require heavy lifting need to keep their back muscles strong and use assistive equipment for heavy loads. This can help reduce the number of back injuries and people who suffer from chronic back pain and lead to a safer workplace.