9 – Health and Safety Steps to Prevent Lift Injuries
This Olympic season we all cheered our team on as they risked life and limb to win gold, silver and bronze – but they shouldn’t be alone in this effort. Canadian workers and employers can help the economy save billions of dollars by reducing time loss issues from simple but preventable back injuries.
In 2012 alone, Canadian businesses reported 245,365 time loss injuries and 977 people lost their lives on the job. In British Columbia, injuries resulted in 2.9 million days lost from work. Time loss injuries affect everyone, in how they impact the Canadian economy, our healthcare system and in some cases push people into disability programs and other cost impacts to insurance programs.
The most common of all workplace injuries are lifting related back injuries. We lift things that we shouldn’t, to places we can’t reach and with techniques that almost guarantee injuries. It isn't just manufacturing or construction jobs, but health care, office work and child care. Back injuries happen to everyone, everywhere and all of the time.
Be a patriot, follow safe lifting procedures.
Step 1 - Keep the load close to your waist: Keep the load close to yourself for as long as possible while lifting. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to you.
Step 2 - Adopt a stable position: Your feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load, if it is on the ground). You should be prepared to move their feet during the lift to maintain their stability. Avoid tight clothing or unsuitable footwear, which may make this difficult.
Step 3 - Get a good hold: Where possible the load should be hugged as close as possible to your body. This is better than only holding it with your hands. Hugging it bring the weight closer to your centre of gravity, further reducing risk.
Step 4 - Start in a good posture: At the start of the lift, keep a slight bend in your back, hips and knees. This is prefered to fully flexing your back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees (squatting).
Step 5 - Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways: especially while your back is bent. Keep your Shoulders level and facing in the same direction as your hips. Use your feet to turn yourself rather than twisting and lifting at the same time.
Step 6 - Keep your head up when handling: Look ahead, not down at the load, once it has been held securely.
Step 7 - Move smoothly: The load should not be jerked or snatched as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase the risk of injury.
Step 8 - Don’t lift or handle more than can be easily managed: There is a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If in doubt, seek advice or get help. What is a struggle for one, can be an ease for two.
Step 9 - Put down, then adjust: If precise positioning of the load is necessary, put it down first, then slide it into the desired position.
Have you ever hurt yourself at work? How did you recover? Share your story with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada.