What is one of the most common workplace injuries? The U.S. Department of Labor reveals that “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 employee.” These figures make it perfectly clear. Employers need strategies to prevent back strain and injuries. What can they do?
Discourage Manual Lifting Whenever Possible
Repetitive strain injuries, including back injuries, accounted for one quarter of all missed work injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are many alternatives to routine manual lifting, and it’s in employers’ best interest to explore them. Here are some ideas to get employers started:
- Encourage employees to use lifting and handling equipment. Swivel casters, platforms, forklifts, and leveling feet all help move, handle, and lift heavy or awkward parts and machinery. Leveling feet help stabilize equipment on uneven flooring and safely raise machines for routine maintenance and inspections. Remember to install industrial handles or t knobs on doors, parts, and compartments; industrial handles enable workers to efficiently repair and operate machinery. Cinch straps can help secure machines or boxes on top of platforms for lifting.
- Use mechanical aids. Mechanical aids, such as conveyor belts and pneumatic lifts, also help bear the burden of heavy equipment.
- Promote teamwork. If mechanical aids and handling equipment is unavailable, encourage employees to lift heavy or awkward parts in teams.
Revisit Safety Training
If manual lifting is unavoidable, there are things employers can do. Employers can reduce back strain, pains, and aches caused by improper lifting by revisiting important safety training. For example, employers can teach workers stretches and exercises that will drastically reduce the likelihood of pulling or over-exerting muscles. Workers can also practice smart lifting techniques that limit direct strain or pressure on the back.
Serious back injuries leave many employees unable to work. Retain employees and keep workers productive by reducing the likelihood of back injuries in your work environment. Ask employees to use handling equipment and products, such as forklifts and industrial handles, and revisit safe and proper lifting techniques.
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