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Workplace Safety - Lifting: a daily routine

Whether you’re at work or conducting daily activities at home, the potential exists for injuries to occur as a result of lifting. Lifting principles applied before, during and after working hours should lower the risk of back strains and sprains, the most common ailments that humans experience. Before we talk about ways to reduce our chances of suffering, such an injury, let’s consider what situations may lead to an incident.

Encourage members of the group to share experiences both from home and work. Examples may include removing items from the car’s trunk, such as dog food, lawn fertilizer or groceries. Work situations will be varied: manufacturing, construction or other occupations where material handling is common.

How big is the problem?

According to the National Safety Council, 60 percent to 80 percent of all workers will experience a back problem at some time during their working careers. Back strains and sprains are the largest source of workplace claims. Conditions in the workplace which, increase the likelihood of back pain, are called risk factors. Back pain risk factors associated with lifting include:

If we reduce or eliminate exposure to these risk factors, we also reduce the chance of experiencing back pain. Ask attendees what solutions they may have to the exposures that they face both at home and at work. Guide them to consider a hierarchy of prevention techniques, such as:

  1. Limiting exposure by providing mechanical assistance, such as conveyor systems, two- and fourwheel carts, and hoists; or by lightening the load to be lifted;
  2. Engineering means, such as elevating the starting point of the lift, to reduce worker exposure to awkward postures;
  3. Training (a safer way to lift should be considered when none of the previous methods are feasible);
  4. Administrative controls (if the lifting is frequent, rotate the work with other workers).


Lifting techniques

If you must lift, you should select the safest way to lift - one that is free from the potential for injury. However, we can lessen our exposure by using an approach that encompasses best practices that have come about through research and application. 

Demonstrate, or use a volunteer to demonstrate, a safer lifting method. Stand close to the load.

 Here are some guidelines:

Remember, relying only on lifting techniques to prevent back injuries still leaves us quite vulnerable to pain and suffering, which can affect our ability to perform our jobs and enjoy our free time with our family and friends. Encourage members of the group to suggest ways to eliminate unnecessary lifts or to lessen the amount of exposure. Examples in our daily lives that ease lifting include:

Article provided by the BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

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