Lifting safely

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Courtesy of GillTrading.com, Inc.

The human body is capable of withstanding many types of forces, jolts, falls, and even electrocution, to a certain extent. However, preventing such incidents is far safer and more effective — not to mention more pleasant — than surviving them. Among the most common and preventable injuries that require some kind of medical attention are various back-pain complaints associated with improper lifting.

Each year, improper lifting leads to hundreds of thousands of sick days taken and millions of dollars in worker’s compensation claims paid. An entire health-care sector of physical therapists, surgeons, neurologists, orthopedists, chiropractors, and massage therapists has evolved to specialize in the treatment of back pain. And all the while, most of these injuries can be prevented.

Teaching and enforcing proper lifting techniques should be a top priority of every supervisor, manager, and employee.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires safety courses on reducing preventable workplace injuries. Industries with multiple hazardous considerations, such as the wastewater industry, tend to center these training opportunities on chemical, fire, electrical, and machinery hazards, and rightly so. However, adding lifting practices to this list, especially when it’s a common aspect of the job, can help reduce injuries.

Unfortunately, most people are not well-versed in how to avoid lifting injuries or do not make it a habit to protect themselves. Regular training, discussion, and review of body mechanics and workplace lifting requirements should be emphasized to prevent unnecessary back injuries.

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