It’s no wonder that back problems account for twenty percent of all work-related injuries. According to NIOSH, an estimated 20 – 50 billion dollars is spent per year on work-related back injuries. Poor posture causes weakness in our backs. Another source of back pain is overexertion, twisting, and working in awkward positions. Both NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and OSHA agree that there are many methods to advance the prevention of back injuries in the workplace.
Employers should select workers that are physically fit to handle the lifting tasks at hand.
It is also helpful for a company to know if the person has had any type of back injury in the past. As part of their training, they should:
- Undergo strength testing.
- Be taught proper lifting techniques.
- Avoid awkward posture.
- Undergo stretching programs.
- Learn the use of mechanical aids in lifting.
- Use PVC-dot grip gloves to reduce grip force needed to lift and carry heavy objects.
- Bend knees rather than back when lifting, carrying, or holding weighty items.
- Apply the use of forklifts, carts, or dollies when possible.
Companies should have a maximum weight limit that workers are expected to meet, with male/female limits set accordingly. The height of the subject to be lifted should be adjusted as well. Workers should be instructed the proper ways to lift, carry, push, and pull manual materials.
Healthcare providers are especially challenged with the duty of transferring patients from beds to wheelchairs. There are all types of equipment that accommodate this type of lifting, from electric beds, lift chairs, and other special hoists. Caregivers should first be trained in the proper methods of lifting, and know when to get someone to help them. Not only are they taking a chance on harming the patient, but causing injury to themselves, as well.