#57 Back Problems

There are approximately 400,000 back injuries each year. They are a leading source of lost time injuries and cost billions of dollars annually, not to mention the hours, days, and even months of disabling pain. In construction work, material is constantly being lifted and carried around the jobsite which is why learning and practicing the basics of back safety is extremely important.

By learning proper lifting and carrying techniques, performance will be improved and the risk of injury is also reduced. There is a right and wrong way to do everything, including lifting. Learning the proper techniques of lifting considerably reduces the chance of being injured.

The most common back pain occurs in the lower part of the back. This part of the back is vulnerable to injury and can be easily damaged by the stress of lifting incorrectly, or by a sudden twisting movement. The spinal column consists of a series of individual bones, stacked like blocks, with a cartilage cushion or disk between each block. The strain of an improper lift can displace or rupture a cartilage disk, resulting in intense pain. The injury may only be temporary but can also be serious enough to require surgery. Either way, the victim faces a lot of pain, possible physical therapy, a back brace, or even total disability.

The safest way to lift is to get a firm footing with your feet apart. Remember to stand close to the load. Squat; do not bend at the waist. Grasp the load securely and lift with your legs, keeping your back in a vertical position. Keep the load close to your body and avoid any kind of twisting movement while carrying the load. When setting the load down, reverse the procedure, remembering to squat so that your back does not bend. These rules for proper lifting apply whether the load is light or heavy, large or small.