Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. This type of injury is costing the industry billions of dollars.
The back is made up of vertebrae, muscles, connective tissue, ligaments, and disks. In most cases, injuries to these parts of the back are the result of improper lifting.
"Back pain doesn't just appear for no cause, it's a sign that whatever your doing needs to be put on pause". - Mike Edwards
Take these steps to avoid and prevent back pain and injuries, for example:
Pay attention to posture. When standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Don't slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that supports your lower back. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or cellphone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
Lift properly. When lifting and carrying a heavy object, get close to the object, bend your knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Use your leg muscles to support your body as you stand up. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curvature of your back. Don't twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask someone to help you. Consider a back brace if the work is heavy or you have a sensitive back.
Modify repetitive tasks. Use lifting devices, to help you lift loads. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and chair are positioned properly. If you repeatedly talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, you can place your phone on speaker or use a headset. Prevent unnecessary bending, twisting, or overextending your natural reaching zone. Limit the time you spend lugging heavy briefcases and backpacks.
Listen to your body. If you must sit for a lengthy period of time, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.
Examine your work environment and address situations that might aggravate your back. Performing these simple steps can help prevent back injury and pain.
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