Don't put yourself in a position where you bend over...and you can't get back up. And you definitely don't want this to happen at work. Follow these workplace safety tips to protect your back.
Despite all the equipment, tools, and machinery that is used in construction, manufacturing, in the warehouse or in the shop, manual labor is still needed to get most work done. What this means is that every worker is exposed to potential injuries to their back by simply doing the normal everyday tasks they often don't think twice about.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): In construction, 25 percent of injuries are back injuries...[and] Every year, a back injury causes 1 in 100 construction workers to miss work - usually missing about 7 workdays, but sometimes more than 30.
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.21(b)(2) says that the employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.
Tasks that can cause a back injury or aggravate an existing back injury include:
- Bending, stooping, or squatting
- Pushing heavy materials
- Placing materials overhead
- Shoveling, twisting, or awkward body positions
- Lifting materials from the floor
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.25(a) During the course of construction, alteration, or repairs, form and scrap lumber with protruding nails, and all other debris, shall be kept cleared from work areas, passageways, and stairs, in and around buildings or other structures.
Housekeeping is an important part of preventing back injuries - always make sure work areas are free of clutter and possible trip hazards. Don't leave things all over the floor like in the photo below.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.22(a)(1) All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.
- Cut down on carrying materials whenever possible by having them delivered close to where they will be used.
- Use material handling tools like carts, dollies, pallet jacks, and forklifts, if possible, to limit manual lifting.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.22(a)(2) The floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable.
- Consider new tools and devices to eliminate the need for bending and stooping, like tools with modified or extended handles.