Everyone has experienced a sore back at one time or another. A sore back can stem from something as simple as a poor night’s sleep all the way to an accident at work involving over lifting. Whatever the cause may be, most people agree that a sore back can cause a hindrance on most of life’s daily activities. Now, consider the possibility of having more than just a sore back, but instead an actual back injury. Not only would your job responsibilities at work be affected, but your home life would also be disturbed. Things that most people take for granted such as simply getting out of bed or even taking a shower may become extremely painful when suffering from a back injury. The best way to ward off the effects of a back injury is through prevention which involves training and the utilization of proper lifting and moving techniques.
- Force – A back injury may arise when too much force is exerted upon the worker’s back when lifting or moving a heavy object.
- Repetition – The repetition of certain movements and having a slouching posture for too long are both causes of muscle fatigue and injury.
- Lifestyle – There are many medical conditions and lifestyle choices that contribute to back injuries such as obesity, sleeping position, smoking and stress.
Julie Copeland – Arbill
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There are many recommended tips out there to help prevent the occurrence of back injuries. Let’s dig into a few of the top preventative practices below:
- Training – If an employee’s job involves any sort of lifting at all, the employee should be trained on proper lifting techniques before the employee even starts participating in any work processes at all. It is usually much easier to train an employee how to lift properly from the very start than it is to try to retrain an employee to stop using improper lifting skills gained from habit.
- Make Proper Lifting Techniques Important – Hold training sessions, post signs, give lifting awards for safe practices, etc. Do whatever it takes to make sure that employees are consistently aware of proper lifting techniques and what is expected.
- Pay Attention to your Body – When your body is sick you usually feel it, when your body is hot you usually sweat, and when your back becomes sore from either lifting heavy items or sitting for extended periods of time you will feel it. Your body will tell you when to take a break, change positions, or simply when to stop doing something. It is often those times when you ignore your bodies warning messages that an injury is bound to occur.
- Exercise Can Help – Many people exercise to keep their bodies in shape. However, in addition to just keeping in shape, exercise can also have many other benefits in the body such as maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight can cause high levels of stress on the back and when that is combined with the pressure of lifting or sitting for extended amounts of time, back injuries become not only a matter of if, but when.
- Take Stretch Breaks – Just as many athletes take the time to stretch adequately before playing, workers should also take the time to stretch while at work as well. Stretching helps to loosen tight muscles, relieve built up stress, and take the pressure off of the back and other parts of the body. It is a good rule of thumb to take a short stretch break every hour you spend either sitting or spend engaged in bending or lifting activities.
[/sws_green_box] You only have one back and it is important to make sure you take care of it. Many times, once back injuries occur it is very difficult to reverse the damage or to fully alleviate the pain. Furthermore, once a back injury has occurred the rate for re-injury grows exponentially. Be aware of the preventative measures you can take to avoid back injuries.
- “Back” to the Basics – Preventing Lower Back Injuries in the Workplace
- Manual Handling Safety Checklist
- Awkward Postures – Five Postures to be avoided in the Workplace
- Reducing Workplace Injuries: Safety Tips for Employers
- Material Handling 101 – Breaking Down OSHA’s Guidelines for Moving & Storage