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When Lifting Objects, Do It Right

Posted on 8/5/2014 by Joel Gregier

For many US employees, work involves tough manual labor, and one of the most common requirements is to lift heavy objects. Lifting objects is an everyday requirement of jobs in industries from manufacturing and construction to retail. Because heavy lifting is such an ordinary activity, workers may not take safety precautions seriously. Workers should be aware that lifting objects incorrectly can lead to serious injuries and problems and that they should have the information and equipment to protect themselves in the workplace.
 
Back Injury Frequencies
 
The US Department of Labor (DOL) collects information on workplace injuries and makes that data available to the public. According to its most recent statistics, back injuries, or “overexertion,” are the most common injuries. More than 20% of injuries that require days away from work or restricted or transferred duties (DART) are caused by overexertion in lifting or lowering.
 
Causes of Overexertion
 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 50% of all DART injuries are soft-tissue damage (sprains, strains, tears, soreness, and bruises). Common causes of soft-tissue injuries include lifting objects that are too heavy, are too bulky, or have their weight unevenly distributed. During the lifting process, employees may bend, twist, or turn their bodies in ways that result in injury. It is critical to train employees on proper lifting techniques to prevent these types of injuries.
 
Preventing Back Injuries
 
Under its General Duty Clause, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect their employees from preventable injuries, whether or not the injury is addressed by a specific OSHA standard. While OSHA has not issued a formal standard for lifting technique, overexertion is a preventable condition and therefore subject to the General Duty Clause. 
 
With that said, there are common safety precautions that employees can take to prevent injuries while lifting. For instance, when moving materials manually, employees should:
 
  • Attach handles or holders to loads (if possible),
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and
  • Use proper lifting techniques.
Proper Lifting Technique
 
hazmat shipping packages handlerOne of the easiest ways to prevent back injuries is to follow proper lifting techniques. Again, while this is not specifically outlined by OSHA, the following technique is a good rule of thumb to follow:
 
  • Step 1: Plan ahead before lifting.
  • Step 2: Set feet shoulder width apart.
  • Step 3: Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Step 4: Grip the load firmly.
  • Step 5: Tighten your stomach muscles.
  • Step 6: Lift with your legs.
  • Step 7: Keep your back straight as you lift.
  • Step 8: Lift close to your body.
  • Step 9: If you’re straining, get help.
 
Protect Your Team With Expert Training 
 
While supervision and a strong safety program help keep workers safe, employees must be prepared to take steps to protect themselves and their co-workers from injury and illness in the workplace. Expert OSHA training at Lion.com is available to satisfy a number of OSHA training standards, as well as provide awareness training on a variety of workplace hazards. 
 

Tags: best, osha, practices, reporting and recordkeeping

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