Back injury is one of the leading causes of lost-time or restricted duty in the workplace and can lead to years of discomfort and disability. A back injury can be cumulative, as a result of repetitive motion over time, or acute due to a sprain or muscle pull, for example.
Factors that Contribute to Cumulative Back Injury
- The amount of repetitive motion
- The maximum lifting load
- The duration the load is to be carried
- The body height, weight, strength and gender
- The position of the body to the load when lifting or carrying
Tips to Help Avoid Back Injury
Every industry and work environment presents its own unique back safety
hazards. Some jobs require a lot of lifting, while other jobs require a lot of sitting.
- Wear back braces if required to lift and carry heavy loads or if the back needs to be supported for long periods.
- Avoid twisting and turning; use legs to position and move the torso. Move the work area closer to avoid unnecessary twisting and reaching.
- Avoid leaning or bending over for extended periods. This causes fatigue and weakness in the lower back over time.
- Stretch and exercise the back before starting work each day.
- Inspect the work area for slip, trip and fall hazards.
- Inspect steps and stairs before climbing; use handrails whenever available.
- Lift with the legs. Position the body so the load is centered and supported by the body before lifting and carrying.
- Seek alternative work methods or rotating schedules if repetitive motion and sustained lifting are causing back discomfort or pain.
- Avoid sudden jerks and pulls on a load that could cause a muscle sprain or herniated disc.
- Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
- Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
- Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.
Questions for Discussion
- What activities exist in your workplace that could cause back injury?
- What can be done in your work area to minimize causes for back injury?