The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2001 over 36% of missed workdays due to injury were due to shoulder and back injuries. That means improperly lifting heavy loads is costing American companies a lot of money and efficiency.
In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that poor back conditions put 600,000 on disability each year, costing around $50 billion. That means this situation doesn’t just affect companies—it increases medical costs for all Americans.
The best way to prevent back injuries is to either teach safe lifting practices or to have the right equipment available. Check out these tips to create a safer and better functioning working environment.
In most jobs, there’s no way to completely avoid the need for heavy loads. Even teachers have to lug boxes of books around from time to time. What can be avoided, however, is lifting injury. And the best way to prevent a worker’s compensation case is to first teach employees these important steps of safe lifting.
Before lifting anything, make sure your employee first considers what they are lifting. They need to make sure it’s a proper weight for lifting. Anything over 50 pounds greatly increases injury risk and is better handled with equipment.
They should also consider their path, and ensure it is clear. They may even consider whether they want to ask a coworker to assist them.
One of the most important aspects of safe lifting practices is keeping your back straight and only bending in the knees. You should be close to what you’re lifting, keeping your arms and elbows near your body.
It is important that employees never twist or use jerking motions when lifting.
Hips, shoulders, and knees should never twist when carrying heavy loads, or else you risk injury. Instead, use your feet to guide you. Again, your arms, elbows, and the load should be held near your body.
Setting down heavy loads is basically the opposite of picking them up. You must always bend at the knee and nowhere else. From there, keep your head up and glance ahead as you set the load down. Remember never to twist during this process.
Of course, not all heavy loads are suitable for human lifting. That’s where lifting machinery comes in.
Hand trucks and pallet jacks are easy to use and perfect for smaller heavy loads. And there’s no training required to operate them, aside from basic common sense.
For larger heavy loads, something like a vertical reciprocating conveyor can really help. Safer and more efficient than a forklift, a VRC can move up to 100 tons.
More on Safe Lifting
If you don’t want to risk employee welfare, PFlow material handling equipment may be the answer. We provide custom lifting solutions with a variety of safety features so companies can expand their production and efficiency.
We’ve been in the VRC business for more than 20 years, and safety has always been our top priority. Contact us today for a quote!