Proper Work Techniques That Can Help Reduce Back Injuries

To help reduce back injuries it is important to find and avoid risk factors that can increase your chance of injury.  When any of the following occur individually or in combination your risk of a back injury is increased:

  • Awkward posture
  • Overexertion
  • Fatigue
  • Repetition

1. Awkward Posture

Your body posture determines which joints and muscles are used and the amount of force that is generated. Whether standing or sitting, there is a neutral position for your back, especially when combined with other risk factors.

What to Avoid:

  • Strenuous activity while the body is in a twisted or bent position
  • Repeated bending, twisting and reaching.
  • Bending forward while lifting

How to reduce awkward posture instances:

  • Change the work height so you can handle the item with your back in a neutral position.
  • Store materials at waist level to avoid bending to lift.
  • Use material handling devices, such as dollies, carts, skid loaders and lift trucks.
  • Bend the knees, not the back, to lift.
  • Move your feet, instead of twisting, to move materials.
  • Ask a co-worker to assist your lift or divide the load

2. Overexertion

Task that require forceful exertions place higher loads on the muscles, disc, ligaments and joints and can lead to fatigue and injury.

Your risk depends on:

  • Type of grip
  • Weight of an object
  • Type and duration of the task
  • Body posture

How to reduce Overexertion:

  • Use material handling devices, such as dollies, carts, wheel barrows, lift trucks and skid loaders.
  • Divide the load for safer transport.
  • Push material rather than lift. Ask a coworker to assist your lift.

3. Fatigue

Job tasks that require the same muscles or motion for long durations can increase fatigue. In general, the longer the period of work, the longer the recovery or rest time required.

How to reduce Fatigue:

  • Alternate tasks and postures that use different motions and muscles groups, such as sitting and standing.
  • Take time to stretch during scheduled breaks.
  • Break standing tasks with seated.

4. Repetition

Repeating the same motions repeatedly places stress on muscles and joints. If repetitive motions are frequent or sustained and combined with excessive force or awkward postures, they can cause injury.

Your risks depend on:

  • How often the action is repeated.
  • Speed of the movement.
  • Number of muscles involved.
  • Required force to lift or move the material.
  • Body posture

If motions are repeated frequently, such as every few seconds, and or prolonged periods, such as an 8-hour  shift, fatigue and injury can result.

How to reduce injury from repletion:

  • Alternate tasks and postures that use different motions and muscle groups.
  • Take time to stretch during scheduled breaks.
  • Use material handling devise, such as dollies, carts, skid loaders and lift trucks.