The key to avoiding back injury at work is to always plan the lift. Know how to handle a situation before it happens, that way when something does come up you will be able to make the best possible decision based on the new circumstances.
What is the first plan of action that you must use when you see a load that could pose a risk of injury?
The safest way to handle the situation is to use whatever form of mechanical means that you have available to you. This means using excavators, loaders, forklifts, dollies, trolleys, pry-bars, etc. Always use machinery or equipment as your first defense against back injury at work.
What is the second plan of action that you must use when you see a load that could pose a risk of injury?
Ask a fellow crew-member to help you lift the load. As a rule of thumb, a worker can safely lift 24Kg. without serious concern of back injury. Therefore, if a piece of equipment weighs 60kg, 3 workers should be available to lift the weight. All crew-members should also be watching out for one another and should offer to help if they see someone else trying to lift something that is too heavy.
What is the third plan of action that you must use when you see a load that could pose a risk of injury?
Discuss the situation with your supervisor. Never hesitate to talk to your supervisor if you feel that lifting a load could be dangerous. Any reasonable supervisor will listen to your concerns and find a safer way of handling the situation. Everyone should go home safely at the end of the day, so always remember to use caution and follow the above three steps before lifting anything that could pose a risk of injury.
When Manual lifting is unavoidable, then good lifting technique should be adopted:
1. Make the Lift
· Rule of Thumb: Look up as you lift!
· Face the load, stand with feet shoulder width apart with one leg ahead of the other.
· Ensure you have a good firm grip before lifting.
· Lift with your leg’s, and not your back and keep your back as straight as possible.
· Lift smoothly without jerking.
2. Move the Lift
· Avoid reaching out. Handle heavy objects close to the body. Avoid a long reach out to pick up an object.
· Avoid unnecessary bending. Do not place objects on the floor if they must be picked up again later.
· Avoid unnecessary twisting. Turn your feet, not your hips or shoulders. Leave enough room to shift your feet so as not to twist.
· Do not be tempted at the last moment to swing the load onto the deck or shelf by bending or twisting your back; it could end up being your last heavy load.
3. Lower the Lift
· The same technique used for lifting the load should be used for lowering the load.
· Watch your fingers for pinch points when lowering the load.
Remember… NO ONE IS GOING TO THANK YOU IF YOU INJURE YOURSELF!