I recently found some statistics that very much surprised me. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), more than one million workers injure their back each year! And, 25% of all workers comp claims are the result of back injuries. Low back pain is second only to the common cold as the reason for why people miss work!
In the US, more than $100 billion is spent on medical bills, disability, and lost productivity as a result of back injuries……and a BLS survey showed that 75% of all back injuries occurred during lifting tasks.
So how can we lift more safely?
Before you lift…..
- Know what you are lifting and how you will lift it
- Know the weight of the object and be clear that you are able to handle the weight
- Make sure the area is clear of debris
- Make sure your pathway is clear of debris and tripping hazards
- Look for any wet or slick surfaces
- Check to see if you can use any lifting assists such as forklift, dolly, cart, hand truck or hoist
- Be sure to wear proper PPE, including shoes with toe protection and gloves
Making the lift…..
- Keep a wide base of support. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other (karate stance).
- Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only. If needed, put one knee to the floor and your other knee in front of you, bent at a right angle (half kneeling).
- Keep good posture. Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders back. This helps keep your upper back straight while having a slight arch in your lower back.
- Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back). Keep your back straight, and don't twist as you lift.
- Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button.
- Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps.
- Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move.
- Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.
Keep in mind…..
- Do not attempt to lift by bending forward. Bend your hips and knees to squat down to your load, keep it close to your body, and straighten your legs to lift.
- Never lift a heavy object above shoulder level.
- Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.