Got Your Back!

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Back injuries at work, home and play are unfortunately common.  A report by the University of Maryland on back injuries in the workplace found that each year there are more than one million back injuries which account for 1 in every 5 injuries reported. 

With the frequency of injuries, it is in our best interest to take a proactive approach towards prevention. 

Proactive measures to reduce back injuries at work start by recognizing, then removing risk factors, and are sustained by observation and coaching. One system that Wachs uses is our pre-shift STA. We lessen the risk of back injuries by rigorous discussions of the task and risk factors, then agreeing upon and implementing solutions. When conducting the STA, engage with discussing causes of back injuries to include: 

 

Awkward Posture

InfoGraphic Courtesy of SitBetter

Risk factors to consider: 

  • Exertion with your body in a twisted/bent or awkward position. 

  • Bending or twisting while lifting. 

Possible Solutions

  • Work at waist level to avoid bending 
  • Use material handling tools (forklifts, hand trucks, etc) 
  • Ask for assistance lifting heavy or awkward objects 

 

Overexertion

Risk factors to consider: 

  • Continuous use of heavy tools 
  • Lifting and carrying materials to and from work site 
  • Long term bending, lifting or stooping 
  • Bending at the waist and twisting 

Possible Solutions

  • Use material handling devices, such as dollies, carts, wheel barrows, lift trucks and skid loaders 
  • When lifting pull the object close and lift with your legs, not your back 
  • Divide the load for safer transport 
  • Ask a coworker to assist your lift 

 

Repetition 

Risk factors to consider: 

  • Frequency of muscles used when an action is repeated 
  • Required force to lift or move the material 
  • Number of muscles involved 
  • Poor posture 

Possible Solutions

  • Alternate tasks and postures that use different motions and muscle groups 
  • Take time to stretch during scheduled breaks 

 

Fatigue

Risk factors to consider: 

  • Continuous lifting, pushing, or pulling 
  • Hand tools that constantly vibrate 
  • A desk job sitting in a chair with inadequate back support

Possible Solutions

  • Alternate tasks and postures that use different motions and muscles groups, such as sitting and standing 
  • Take time to stretch before your shift, before the task and during scheduled breaks 
  • Break up time standing with seated task when possible 

As with any injury the best prevention is to be proactive.  We have two proactive ‘tools’ in our procedures that go a long way in decreasing a workplace back injury - Wachs’ Stretch and Flex, and Wachs’ Services STA (Safety Task Assessment).

Together, not only can we provide to our clients a quality product we also can provide to each other a safer workplace.

For more information, check this week's Wachs Weekly!