How to Prevent Back Injuries

Back injuries in the workplace are a common occurrence, and they don’t just happen to the people doing the heavy lifting. Everyone from a desk worker to an inventory stocker can be at risk for a career-halting injury. So, no matter what kind of business you run, it’s important to have a proactive plan in place to prevent them. Here is a checklist with some guidelines to help you safeguard your employees and protect your bottom line:

Management Guidelines

  • Identify the jobs and tasks that result in back injuries.
  • Modify or eliminate the tasks causing back injuries.
  • Rotate personnel in and out of the jobs that cause back injuries.
  • Decrease the weight of objects being carried.
  • Provide nonskid footwear to workers when needed.
  • Provide adequate lighting, work temperature, noise control and good housekeeping.
  • Provide carts, hand trucks, utility vehicles and wheelbarrows with large wheels.
  • Provide scissor lifts and spring table lifts.
  • Mark containers with the weight of the contents.
  • Provide handles on bags, boxes and containers.

Industrial Work Concepts to Reduce Back Injuries

  • Minimize body movements by reducing bending, twisting, and reaching motions.
  • Decrease the forces on the body by reducing the weight of the object and the forces due to moments (load x distance) or the distance between the load and the body.
  • Decrease carrying forces by eliminating the need to carry or by converting to push or pull actions.
  • Minimize the push or pull force needed to move an object or reduce the distance that has to be covered.
  • Reduce the weight of the object and/or reduce the traveling distance the object is carried.

Workstation Designation Actions

  • Fit the workstation to the worker – practice and train on ergonomics.
  • Design workstations to accommodate the worker in both the sitting and standing positions.
  • Locate tools, materials and controls close to the point of use.
  • Provide gravity feed bins and containers to deliver materials close to the point of use.
  • Equip workstations with mats to cushion floors and provide a nonskid surface.

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