Despite all the equipment, tools, and machinery that is used in construction, manufacturing, in the warehouse or in the shop, manual labor is still needed to get most work done. What this means is that every worker is exposed to potential injuries to their back by simply doing the normal everyday tasks they often don’t think twice about.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): In construction, 25 percent of injuries are back injuries…[and] Every year, a back injury causes 1 in 100 construction workers to miss work – usually missing about 7 workdays, but sometimes more than 30.
Tasks that can cause a back injury or aggravate an existing back injury include:
- Bending, stooping, or squatting
- Lifting materials from the floor
- Pushing or carrying heavy materials
- Kneeling for long periods of time
- Placing materials overhead
- Shoveling, twisting or awkward body positions
Example of proper lifting/setting technique according to CDCs “Simple Solutions Ergonomics for Construction Workers.”
When workers must lift or carry materials, the following tips should come to mind:
- Keep the load as close to the body as possible
- Try not to twist…turn the whole body instead
- Lift with the legs, not the back
- Lift the load using a solid two-handed grip
- Lift and lower the materials in a smooth, steady way…don’t jerk the lift
All workers have heard these tips a million times but there’s a reason this seems to be the most often repeated safety lecture that applies to every work environment, every industry and every employee. Don’t think that you are superman because one wrong move and you could be out of work for weeks (or worse).