Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge. If employees follow proper lifting techniques, the risk of on-the-job lower-back injuries can be avoided or minimized:
Tuck your pelvis. This will tighten the stomach muscles and keep the back straight and in balance while lifting. It also shifts the weight of the employee more under the object to be lifted or carried.
Bend your knees. By bending at the knees instead of the waist, the back remains straight and achieves a sense of balance. The strongest muscles in a human’s body are the leg muscles and the strongest bone is the femur or upper leg bone. Therefore, let the legs do the lifting.
‘Hug’ the load. Keep the object being lifted as close to the body as possible while straightening the legs to a standing position. Loads carried at arm’s length from the torso place excessive and unneeded strain on multiple parts of the body.
Avoid twisting. Never twist at the waist or shoulders—this can overload the spine and lead to serious injury. Move the load as a single unit in conjunction with the entire body. Always keep the feet, knees, and torso pointed in the same direction when lifting.
William D. Frye is coauthor of AH&LEI’s textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations.
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