Back Safety

Oct 25 08:52 2011 mark hohman Print This Article

Back injuries are considered by OSHA  as the nation's #1 workplace safety problem. Proper posture and lifting techniques can significantly reduce the likelihood of back injuries.

 

Back injuries are considered by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as the nation's #1 workplace safety problem.

Back injuries are often:

·         Very painful;

·         A long term or lifetime disability; and 

·         Expensive to diagnose and treat.

Most back problems are related to your spine. Your spine is made up of many small bones called vertebrae.

Your spine serves not only to help you sit or stand upright,Guest Posting but also to protect your spinal cord. Your spinal cord is the main "information highway" for your entire body, and is composed of millions of nerves.

Causes of Back Pain

Poor Posture

Standing, sitting, or lying down incorrectly will put strain on your spine. Your spine is designed to operate best when it is in a "natural S" shape. Out of Shape

Your overall physical condition can affect your back. If your back muscles are weak, or if you have put on a few pounds, your back must work harder. Making your back work harder can lead to back pain.

Tension and Stress

Tight and knotted muscles which are caused by tension and stress can cause muscle spasms and back pain.

Aging and Disease

As we age, the muscles in our backs lose their strength and ability to function. One of the disks in your spine can "slip" out of place, and press on the nerves in your back. Osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis, can cause back pain, as well as kidney and prostate problems.

Impact Trauma

Being in an accident, where your spine is injured, will produce serious back pain. Examples of impact trauma include falls, slips, or being involved in an auto accident.

Repetitive Trauma

Working in an awkward position or lifting incorrectly over a period of time can cause what are known as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). As you repeat an unhealthy position or movement, small injuries begin to add up. If you do not change how or what you are doing, more serious injuries can occur.

Lifting Safely

Before lifting and carrying a heavy object, take a few moments to assess the situation.

·         How far will you have to carry the load?

·         Is the way clear of clutter, cords, slippery areas, overhangs, stairs, curbs, or uneven surfaces?

·         Will there be doors that are closed? Ask someone to hold a door open or place a wedge under the door to hold it open.

·         Once you get the load up, will you be able to see over the load, or will the load block your view?

·         Can the load be disassembled, carried in pieces, and then reassembled?

Before You Lift

Take a few moments to "size up the load." Test the weight by lifting a corner of the object. If it is too heavy or if the object is an odd shape, STOP!

Ask for help. Two or three people lifting a heavy object is much safer than trying to do it yourself.

Use a handtruck, pushcart, or a mechanical lifting device.

Consider using gloves that will improve your grip and protect your hands.

Never lift anything unless you are sure you can do so safely.

Lifting the Load

The KEY to lifting safely is keeping your back straight or slightly arched. NEVER USE YOUR BACK TO LIFT!

Start the lift by putting your feet close to the object. Get a firm footing.

Center your body over your feet.

Squat down like a professional weightlifter, bending your knees. Keep your back straight or slightly arched. You want your legs to do the lifting, not your back.

Grasp the load securely with your hands, and pull the load close to you.

Smoothly lift straight up. NEVER TWIST YOUR BODY WHILE LIFTING, KEEPING YOUR HEAD UP, AS IF LOOKING STRAIGHT AHEAD, NOT DOWN.

Carrying the Load

As you carry the load:

Keep your back straight or slightly arched.

Walk slowly and surely.

Use your feet to change directions. Never twist your back.

Avoid leaning over.

Avoid lifting a load over your head.

If you become tired, set the load down, and rest for a few moments.

Setting the Load Down

Setting the load down is the reverse of lifting.

Position yourself where you want to set the load.

Squat down. Let your legs to do the work, not your back.

REMEMBER NOT TO TWIST YOUR BODY WHILE SETTING DOWN A LOAD, AND KEEP YOUR HEAD UP.

Once the load is where you want it, release your grip.

Alternatives to Lifting

 Handtrucks and Pushcarts

When using a handtruck or pushcart, remember:

·         It is easier and safer to push than to pull.

·         Stay close to the load, try not to lean over, and keep your back straight or slightly arched.

·         Use both hands to control the handtruck or pushcart.

·         Use tie-down straps, if necessary, to secure the load.

·         Avoid stairs and inclines. If you must take a load to another floor, use a freight elevator.

·         Never "horse around" with handtrucks and pushcarts.

Maintaining a Healthy Back

  Posture - Standing

Stand up straight. Don't slouch.

If you must stand for long periods of time, use a footrest or anti-fatigue mats. 

Select and use appropriate footwear that is comfortable. 

Posture - Sitting

Sitting is actually harder on your back than standing.

Sit up straight. Again, don't slouch.

If you must sit for long periods of time, consider using a pillow or towel to support your lower back.

Select and use a chair that fits you. Make sure that when you are sitting that your knees are slightly higher than your hips.

Posture - Lying Down

Select a mattress that doesn't sag. Or, replace one that does.

Sleep on your side with your knees bent or on your back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your head resting on a stack of pillows.

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About Article Author

mark hohman
mark hohman

Mark Hohman has been a radiation therapist, dosimetrist and director during his 15 year healthcare career.  He is now working at selfdirectedce.com radiology continuing education as an owner/developer of a radiology continuing education website.

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