Prevent Painful and Expensive Back Injuries
Back injuries are not only painful to the employee, but they are also ‘painful’ for the employer. More than one million workers suffer from back injuries every year and 25% of all compensation claims involve the back. In addition, once someone injures their back, there is a 40% chance of the injury recurring. In a recent study, 1/3 of all compensable back injuries could be prevented through better job design. With these types of statistics, it is critical that companies seriously evaluate the risk of a back injury and make the improvements before an injury occurs.
One of the most important risk factors to consider would be how far the load being lifted is from the employee’s spine. The farther the load is from the spine, the greater the stress on the back. When evaluating the lift, first consider the horizontal distance from the person’s hands to their spine. The farther the hands are from the spine, the greater the force on the back and the greater the risk of injury.
Here are some simple improvements you can make to your workplace to reduce the risk of a back injury due to a long horizontal reach:
- Evaluate and eliminate any obstructions in the work area that keep the employee from getting as close to the load as possible (i.e. work tables, poorly designed racks, equipment that extends past load, etc.)
- Ensure that the employee is trained to pull the load as close to the body as possible before beginning the lift
- Keep the container as small as feasible so that the hands are as close to the body as possible
Remember, small improvements can add up to a safe workplace for backs. For more information on how you can protect your employees’ backs, contact Laura Dietrich at Advanced Safety & Health @ (502) 240-6910