Lifting injuries are the second most common cause of workers' compensation claims handled by Protective Insurance Company. Read the following case study for tips to perform safe lifts and prevent injury.

The Facts

As a 52-year-old driver was unloading his truck, a 50-pound box of books he was attempting to lift fell on him. The box was above his head and he was reaching over boxes stacked in the middle of the truck. He experienced pain in his right shoulder and lower back. The driver was diagnosed with a lumbar sprain and hasn’t returned to work in 42 weeks.
 

The Cost

The total cost of this claim was $150,344.42 and total time lost was 42 weeks.
 

The Solution

Your workers can avoid this type of injury by following these tips to perform a safe lift:

Before the lift:

  • Stretch and warm up before lifting. Limber muscles are less likely to pull or tear.
  • Test the weight by moving a corner of the object and decide whether you can handle it alone or if you need help.
  • If possible, divide a heavy load into several smaller ones.
  • Make sure you have enough room to lift safely.
  • Inspect your intended path of travel for obstacles or other possible hazards. Make sure you have a clear path, can see where you are going and have a clear area to set it down.
  • If possible, avoid walking on slippery, uneven surfaces while carrying any load.
  • Don’t rely on a lifting belt to protect your back. When used improperly, they can actually damage your back.
  • Position yourself so that you do not have to stretch to lift the load.
  • If a package is above your shoulders, tilt the package in a way to minimize lifting above your head, where applicable.
  • Do not reach with your arms outstretched to carry any measurable weight. This decreases the optimal carrying weight and increases the risk of injury to the shoulders and back.

During the lift:

  • Get a firm footing. Stand with your feet close to the object and center yourself over the load.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart with one foot slightly forward of the other.
  • Bend at your knees, not your waist, to get your legs ready to support the load. This is the single most important part of lifting.
  • Grip the object firmly with the palms of your hands around the corners of the object.
  • Let your leg muscles do the work. They are stronger than any other muscle in your body.
  • Straighten your legs to lift straight up in a slow, smooth motion.
  • For greater strength and stability, lift and carry the object near your waist.
  • Move your feet when you change directions. Turning with your upper body while carrying your load causes strains.
  • Do not arch your back. This makes the nerve roots open to pinching and causes strains in weaker muscles.
  • Bend your knees again as you lower the load.
  • Take small breaks between lifts if you are lifting a number of items.

For more case studies on how to prevent common injuries, read the full feature in the Summer 2013 issue of The Quill. Visit The Quill archive >>

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  • Transportation Safety
  • Workplace Safety
  • Injury Prevention
  • Dock & Warehouse Safety
  • Claims