Back Injuries: An Overview
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than one million workers experience back injuries each year. Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons that people miss work, second only to the common cold. Each year in the United States, back injuries and illnesses account for more than $100 billion in medical bills, disability costs and lost productivity at work. More importantly, back problems cause (often debilitating) discomfort and pain to workers, which can have a lasting effects on their lifestyle and income. A BLS survey shows that 75% of back injuries occurred while performing lifting tasks. Consequently, it is important to take extra steps to protect your back, especially during lifting.
Back Injuries: Prevention
Some strategies to avoid back injuries while lifting at work and the home include:
- Plan ahead – understand what you are lifting and determine a plan to lift it safely;
- Determine the weight of the object before you lift it;
- Determine whether the object is safe to lift on your own or if you need help;
- Determine if mechanical means would be a safer alternative to manual lifting;
- Make sure the lifting area is clean, flat and dry and free of debris;
- Bend at the knees and hips, keep your upper body as upright as possible with chest slightly forward;
- Keep the weight close to your body; and,
- Wear proper hand protection.
A little planning before you lift can go a long way towards preventing injuries when lifting objects at the work site.