According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), lifting heavy objects is a top cause of workplace injuries in the United States. In fact, more than one-third of injuries resulting in lost work days involve a back or shoulder injury due to heavy lifting. The most common factors cited in back injuries are overexertion and cumulative trauma.
Fortunately, by following smart lifting practices at all times, you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury, including back sprains and strains, pulled muscles, wrist and elbow injuries, and injuries to the neck, shoulders, and spine. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.
How to Reduce/Eliminate Common Hazards
Anytime you must lift an object or load heavier than 50 pounds, you are at an increased risk of back injury. Certain loads, such as bundles of wire or conduit, and heavy machinery, place an unsafe amount of stress on the vertebrae and muscles of the back. To reduce or eliminate these hazards, consider the following solutions:
- Always use pallet jacks and hand trucks to move heavy objects or loads.
- Never roll spools. They are nearly impossible to stop once in motion.
- Use forklifts or other mechanical lifting methods whenever possible to lift heavy objects, such as transformers, conduit, and machinery.
- Use suction tools to lift heavy objects with flat surfaces.
- When lifting equipment into trucks, use lift gates or ramps.
- If you must manually lift an item, always use smart lifting practices. Place the object level with your “power zone” (between mid-thigh and mid-chest) prior to lifting. Keep your spine straight and bend at the knees.
- If possible, request that suppliers break down loads into smaller quantities (off-site) prior to delivery.
- Try to limit manual lifting weight to 50 pounds or less. When heavier loads must be lifted manually, request the help of at least one additional worker. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a workplace lifting accident.
Avoid Improper or Awkward Postures
Bending and reaching while lifting also increases the weight of the load on your back. As a result, the stress on the muscles, shoulders, and lower spine can lead to serious injury. This is even true of lighter objects. Other awkward postures, such as carrying a load unevenly on one shoulder or under one arm, can also lead to injury. To avoid injuries from awkward or improper postures, follow the tips below:
- Hold objects close to your body when lifting.
- Use your leg muscles to help lift an object from a low level.
- Store objects that require manual lifting at “power zone” level.
- Never twist your torso while lifting. Move your feet instead.