Preventing Back Injuries: Staying Within The Safe Zone
Typically, before a back injury occurs there are some famous last words:
“Let’s give it one more try”.
“It’s stuck, let’s try harder”.
“I don’t need help, I can do this myself”.
“It will come loose. Let’s give it one more tug”.
“It’s okay, I can reach it”.
When our tasks, especially when dealing with manual lifting or exertion, are not going as planned there should be multiple “Red Flags” going off in our minds. If something requires overreaching, doesn’t fit quite right, extra force needs to be applied or things are just not going as intended, you need to STOP. This is the time where you need to pause and revaluate your task and actions.
To avoid overexertion (pushing away/down and pulling towards/up):
- Keep the manual forces close to your center of gravity you will have greater control over the force you are applying.
- Staying in this zone will ensure your body is in a neutral, balanced position that allows your body to act efficiently, well balanced and with adequate strength.
- Push rather than pull.
Think about which direction you are exerting the force and how it is relative to your center mass.
- Use a mechanical aid like a dolly or a trolley.
- Get assistance from a coworker.
To avoid overreaching:
- Improve your housekeeping. Arrange your storage areas and shelves.
- Keep heavy or large and awkward items off bottom or top shelves.
- Keep the items above knee height and below shoulder height.
- Use a mechanical aid like a step ladder or an adjustable platform.
- Don’t bend over to reach, squat down.
- Raise equipment bins or containers off of the floor reduce overreaching or bending.
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