Accidents and mishaps are, unfortunately, a part of life. Some of these occur because of your actions, while others are because of someone else. Some injuries are the result of bad luck or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Accidents at work can cause injuries, too. This is significantly more common in more physically active jobs such as construction, mechanical work, or other occupations where you are on your feet throughout the day. Of all types of injuries, back injuries are among the most prevalent. As much as 20 percent of all injuries and illnesses are related to ailments with the back. Prevention is possible by taking sensible steps.
Not every job will require strenuous physical activity throughout the day. Some people sit in a chair much of the time and are not moving around much at all. But if you know you will be lifting and moving objects, stretching, bending, or twisting, or walking most of the time, it is a good idea to stretch. Before you begin your duties, take five to 10 minutes to stretch the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders. These exercises will reduce the risk of injury. Stretching will get your back ready to support the weight of lifting.
If you lift boxes, equipment, supplies, or any materials throughout the workday, you must learn the correct techniques. It is easy to get lazy and lift improperly. You may think it’s unnecessary to lift properly or that you can save time doing it some other way. The truth is that 80% of back injuries happen when lifting objects. The item does not even have to be heavy to injure your back. To lift correctly, bend your knees as you pick up the item; do not bend your back. Hold the object close to your body as you lift and carry it. If it is heavy, get someone to help you.
There’s nothing wrong with taking more than one trip to carry something. Don’t think it’s more important to do something faster when your health and safety are at stake. If possible, split the load in half or thirds. Instead of carrying multiple heavy objects, take one at a time. If in doubt, carry less than more. You can also look for alternative ways of moving materials, such as using a cart. Again, it doesn’t take a large object to strain your back and injure it.
Certain activities require special clothing or gear. Understanding what is appropriate for a given activity is essential. When it comes to handling objects, the grip is critical. Wearing gloves can help you maintain a good handle on the load, preventing unnecessary strain on the back. Make sure your shoes have good traction, so you are stable as you walk. This will also help you to maintain a good balance. Your clothes should also not impede your ability to handle materials.
One of the most effective ways to stay safe at work is to be aware of your surroundings. Understand where potential hazards lie and plan how to avoid them or remove them. If you are moving objects or transporting large loads, decide how to accomplish this with the smallest amount of physical effort possible. This may mean using equipment, such as pallet jacks or forklifts.
What if you don’t have a job where you are lifting or even mobile throughout the day? This does not mean workplace back injuries are not common. A simple movement such as reaching for something on your desk or turning in your chair can hurt your back. Inactivity is a significant cause of back pain. If you are mostly sedentary at work, commit to getting up from your chair regularly throughout the day. Take a walk at lunchtime, head over to a coworker’s desk instead of calling or emailing. Staying as active as possible can cut down on your risk of having a back injury.
If you want to avoid being part of the statistics of those who fall prey to back problems on the job, follow these tips. No matter what you do for a living, staying safe is vital. Prevention is possible.
If you injured your back at work, call (800) 897-8440 to find an experienced doctor near you and get on the road to recovery!
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