Monday, February 25, 2013

Preventing Back Injuries-The Nation’s #1 Workplace Safety Problem


We all know back injuries are a major problem when it comes to workplace safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Further, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars on top of the pain and suffering borne by employees.”

So it’s clear back injuries are a major concern in the workplace, but identifying the problem is only the first step in fixing it. So today we are going to focus on the steps administration, employees, and engineers can take to prevent back injuries.

Some possible steps employers can take to limit back injuries among workers include:
  1. Strength testing works to reduce assignment of works to jobs that exceed their strength capabilities. A study has shown this can prevent up to one-third of work-related injuries
  2. Training employees to utilize lifting techniques that place minimum stress on the lower back.
  3. Advice or implement physical conditioning or stretching programs to reduce the risk of muscle strain.
Suggested engineering controls include:
  • A reduction in the size or weight of the object lifted. The parameters include maximum allowable weights for a given set of task requirements; the compactness of a package; the presence of handles, and the stability of the package being handled.
  • Adjusting the height of a pallet or shelf. Lifting which occurs below knee height or above shoulder height is more strenuous than lifting between these limits. Obstructions which prevent an employee's body contact with the object being lifted also generally increase the risk of injury.
  • Installation of mechanical aids such as pneumatic lifts, conveyors, and/or automated materials handling equipment.
Another recent study that was done found that up to one-third of compensable back injuries could be prevented through better ergonomics. Now that is a large number of expensive injuries that could be prevented easily. Not only would it save money and man hours, but more importantly would increase safe, healthy, happy employees.

Contributed by Joe Wheatley
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy 

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let's make it safe this Monday.

Aaron M. Lamb
General Manager, Lift'n Buddy.  A Southworth Company