The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that over 36 percent of injuries involving missed workdays were the result of shoulder and back injuries from heavy lifting. Overexertion and cumulative trauma were cited as the most significant factors in these injuries.
If you work in a manufacturing or warehouse job, you’ve probably been asked to lift a heavy object at some time or another. You might even be lifting and moving heavy things regularly without giving it much thought. However, it’s essential to realize that heavy lifting can result in a variety of workplace injuries such as:
- Muscle pulls
- Spinal injuries including herniated discs
- Back sprains
- Pulled muscles
- Wrist injuries
- Elbow injuries
The good news is that you can prevent most, if not all, of these injuries.
Lifting and moving heavy objects safely.
Many of the objects that need to be moved in a typical manufacturing environment weigh more than 50 pounds. If you attempt to lift something of that weight by yourself, you are flirting with injury to your spine and muscles. If you want to prevent a disabling injury, OSHA has some recommendations for you:
- Use a forklift
- Use a shoplift, pallet jack, or hand truck
- Use suction devices to create temporary handles
- Take advantage of ramps and lift gates
- Keep a straight spine alignment when you are lifting
- Bend at your knees–not at your waist
- When you order supplies and materials, make sure they are in smaller quantities, so they don’t weigh more than 50 pounds
Sometimes workers are tempted to lift heavy objects because it’s inconvenient or time-consuming to go for the lifting equipment. Take time. Remember, it’s even more uncomfortable to be sitting at home with an injured back.
Awkward postures can also contribute to lifting injuries.
Another primary cause of lifting injuries has to do with lifting from an awkward position. Specifically, if you carry an uneven load (more under one arm or over one shoulder) or if you bend your body while lifting, your risk of injury increases.
To prevent injuries from lifting with an awkward posture, consider these recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
- Keep objects as close as possible to your body
- Keep your elbows close to your body as you lift
- Lift only from the “power zone,” which is close to the collection and between mid-thigh and mid-chest height
- Avoid twisting when you lift
Steering clear of injury when you lift frequently.
If you must lift heavy objects frequently or for extended periods, you could be at risk for overexertion injuries even if the items you’re raising are not all that heavy. It’s always helpful to work in teams, so no single worker has to lift constantly or for an extended duration. Be sure to take regular breaks to minimize overexertion.
Are you looking for a new job in the new year?
We can help. Contact Pro Resources for the light industrial or technical/professional position you’re hoping to find. We’ve been in business for over 30 years, so let us use our expertise to help you find your next, or first, job.