The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that, on average, 36 percent of injuries that caused a person to miss work were based on injuries to the back and shoulders (osha.gov, 2016). In fact, overexertion and built-up trauma are typically the biggest factors in back and shoulder injuries. That is why it is always a good idea to review safe lifting practices while working in a position that requires a lot of heavy lifting. Some of the most common injuries that are caused by improper lifting techniques include:
- Back Sprains
- Muscle Strains
- Wrist, Elbow, and Back Injuries
After years of research, doctors have devised a list of safe lifting practices that are designed for anybody doing any kind of lifting. From a chiropractic standpoint, we want to make sure that everybody is making the best decisions possible to complete their lifting task. So, here is a list of potential hazards and possible solutions that might help you avoid injury.
Always be aware of the weight of objects
- Many times, large packages or large loads that are over 50 pounds can create a lot of stress on muscles and bones in the back and arms. Unfortunately, most random items are not labeled with a weight.
- One way to avoid injury is to use mechanical means such as hand trucks or pallet jacks to move heavy items. Also, if you intend on carrying these items, be sure to keep a straight back and lift with the legs not the back to maintain proper spine alignment.
Awkward postures are the easiest way to hurt yourself
- Bending over at the hips instead of the knees adds more weight to a person’s back and can increase the strain on the shoulders and back. At the same time, carrying items on one side of the body can also create uneven pressure to the spine.
- To avoid injuries from awkward positions, avoid twisting your body and turn your feet instead of your torso when walking around a corner. Also, move items closer to your body and try to avoid lifting items that are positioned above your head to avoid added stress to your upper back, shoulders, and arms.
Holding or Lifting items for long periods
- Holding items can cause a fatigue in the muscles throughout the entire body. Even holding your arms above your head for a long period can cause added stress. At the same time, repeated motions with no rest can cause the muscles to cramp and become quickly fatigued.
- The best way to avoid holding items for long periods of times is to have a helper and to take periodical breaks. This will give your muscles a chance to recuperate allow your body to rest between lifting periods. Utilizing stands or mechanical lifts are also a good idea.
Items with poor or improper handles
- Holding items with improper handles can make lifting objects more difficult and it can add unnecessary stress to a person’s body. It can also be dangerous based on the weight of the object and the area of which you are carrying the object. The poor handles, or lack thereof, can increase the possibilities of dropping the object.
- The best way to avoid injuring yourself in this aspect is to ensure that the object has handles or can be handled properly. If the object does not have handles and is too heavy to carry, utilizing a hand truck or other cart-type device to move the object.
For more information about his list and other ways to stay safe while lifting heavy objects, we would be happy to demonstrate proper lifting techniques to help you avoid injury. If you’ve been suffered a back or shoulder injury while lifting an item, we may be able to help you recover from your injury, depending on your condition. Please call your local chiropractor to schedule an appointment today.
“Ergonomics ETool: Solutions for Electrical Contractors – Materials Handling: Heavy Lifting.” Ergonomics ETool: Solutions for Electrical Contractors – Materials Handling: Heavy Lifting. U.S. Department of Labor, 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.