Improper lifting techniques of heavy items can cause immediate back injuries, one of the most common and expensive work-related injuries. According to OSHA, back injuries are a leading cause of disability for people in the working years, affecting about 600,000 employees each year and cost billions of dollars annually.
Educating employees on how to safely and properly move heavy items at work should be a high priority for all employers who have employees with responsibilities that including lifting things. Not only do injuries affect disability insurance, but also can lead to additional costs including lost productivity, potential lawsuits, hiring and training replacements, and damaged inventory or equipment from accidents.
In addition to education, proper lifting equipment and tools such as moving dollies or moving straps may help prevent injuries, and increase efficiency.
When lifting heavy objects, following several safety tips can help minimize the chance of injury.
Analysis - First determine how heavy the object is and how far it will be moved. Is there a clear path to where it needs to be moved? Will your field of vision be blocked while carrying this item? Will doors need to be opened while your hands are occupied with heavy object? Planning ahead can make the job safer and easier.
Assistance - If an object might be too heavy, do not risk injury by attempting to carry it by yourself. Get someone to help you with the job.
Form - Never bend at the waist to pick something off of the ground. Your back muscles are not nearly as strong as your leg muscles, so lift with your legs, not with your back. Get into a good stance, feet about shoulder width apart. Bend at the knees and tighten your abdominal muscles. Use both hands to hold onto the item. Hold it as close to your body as possible. Do not twist when carrying the object. Turn your whole body using your feet rather than turning with your waist.
If carrying heavy items is a common task for some of its workers, a company may want to invest in a safety training program. Trainers can be hired, and brochures can be given to new hires and existing employees as mandatory reading.