Safety talk - Back safety

Next to headaches, medical experts say that back problems are the most common medical complaint. Back pain is the second most common cause of lost workdays; with only the common cold causing more lost workdays. Back injuries alone cost American Industry $10-14 billion in workers’ compensation costs and about 100 million lost workdays every year.

What causes back problems? If ligaments and muscles are weak, then discs in the lower back can become weakened. With excessive lifting, or a sudden fall, a disc can rupture. Years of back abuse and aging cause the discs to wear out. However, back pain caused by a muscle strain or a ligament sprain will normally heal within a short time and may never cause further problems.

Poor physical condition, poor posture, lack of exercise, and excessive body weight contribute to the number and severity of sprains and strains. Most back injuries occur in the 24-40-year-old age group. One way to reduce back problems is by modifying your work practices. Instead of lifting objects, consider mechanical means. But, if you must lift, follow these general guidelines:

- Lift, push and pull with your legs, not your arms or back

- When lifting something from the floor, kneel down next to the object and then lift with the legs

- When changing direction while moving something, turn with your feet, not your waist

- When carrying heavy objects, carry them close to you and avoid carrying them with one hand.

- When stepping down, step backward, not forward.

— Information provided by University of Kansas and the
​​​​​​​National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

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