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Strategies for preventing back injuries

October 1st, 2010 / By: / Safety & Codes

Lifting-related injuries continue to decrease as awareness and prevention increase among employers and employees. According to the most recent data available from U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of nonfatal cases involving days away from work dropped from 140,330 in 2007 to 129,990 in 2008.

Educating employees on lifting strategies and providing a properly designed workspace can result in fewer injuries and less expenditures.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends the following guidelines:

  • Alter the task to eliminate the hazardous motion and/or change the position of the object in relation to the employee’s body—such as adjusting the height of a pallet or shelf.
  • Material handling tasks should be designed to minimize the weight, range of motion and frequency of the activity.
  • Material handling tasks should be designed to minimize the weight, range of motion and frequency of the activity.
  • Platforms and conveyors should be built at about waist height to minimize awkward postures. Conveyors or carts should be used for horizontal motion whenever possible. Reduce the size or weight of the object(s) lifted.
  • High-strength push-pull requirements are undesirable, but pushing is better than pulling. Material handling equipment should be easy to move, with handles that can be grasped in an upright posture.
  • Workbench or workstation configurations can force people to bend over. Make adjustments so that workers remain in a relaxed, upright stance or fully supported, seated posture. The workstation should be elevated, with bins tilted or equipped with collapsible sides to improve access.
  • Repetitive or sustained twisting, stretching or leaning to one side are undesirable. Corrections could include repositioning bins and moving employees closer to parts and conveyors.
  • Store heavy objects at waist level.
  • Provide lift-assist devices and lift tables.

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