10/05/2011

Back Injuries

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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), back injuries continue to be one of the major health hazards affecting workers today. Back injuries often result in a long-lasting condition requiring medical treatment and often adversely affect a persons lifestyle. The majority of back injury incidents involve lifting, pushing, or carrying. Fortunately, 0% of back injuries are preventable if a person develops and maintains good work habits that avoid placing excess stresses and strains on the back.


How the Spine works


The spinal system is composed of


Each of these structures is subject to injury depending on the type of manual work a person performs and the resulting stress. Disc and spinal cord injuries tend to be the most serious, but ligament sprains and muscle strains can also be painful and debilitating.


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Risk Factors for Back Injuries


· Repetition The number of stressful back motions made per workday. Most back injuries are considered to be cumulative trauma injuries that are based on the person’s overall history of risk factors.


· Force The weight of the load to be lifted, pushed, or pulled.


· Posture The degree to which the back’s normal curves are “out of alignment” during lifting.


· Load The size, stability, place to grip, slipperiness, and center-of-gravity of an object.


· Distance The horizontal distance of load from the body, the vertical distance to be lifted, and the distance to be moved.


· Personal Size, strength, age, flexibility, lifting habits, and physical condition of the individual. Fortunately, almost 80% of back injuries are attributable to poor physical conditioning. You can take control to improve your physical conditioning and improve you back health!





How to Prevent Back Injuries


Before the Lift


ü Exercise. Keep yourself physically fit by developing a good exercise program appropriate for your age and overall health. Be sure to check with your health-care professional for advice on exercise programs.


ü Attend Back Injury Prevention classes provided by your EH&S Representative.


ü Check the area around the object first to be sure there is enough clearance and to make sure the intended walkway is clear of obstructions.


ü Check your alternatives. For difficult lifts or heavy lifts (e.g., greater than 50 pounds) always obtain help or use a material handling device.


ü Never lift objects overhead. This applies to moving objects from overhead locations and to overhead locations.


ü Never reach over another object to lift something.


During the Lift


ü Stance Take a balanced stance with the feet set about shoulder width and the knees bent, then cautiously test the weight of the object to get a feel for its overall weight and center-of-gravity. Don’t assume that because something looks familiar that its weight and contents will be the same as another similar item. If it feels too bulky or too heavy, stop and obtain assistance.


ü Performing the Lift Grip the object firmly with both hands, take a breath, and then smoothly lift straight between the legs using the leg muscles for power. The idea is to keep the spine upright in its normal curve during the lift. This minimizes disc pressures and muscle imbalances. The abdominal muscles should also be tightened during the lift to assist with body stability.


ü Carrying and Lowering Keep the spine in its normal curve by standing straight and holding the load as close to your body as possible. This reduces the adverse leverage a load places against your spine.


ü Never twist the body while lifting.


ü Keep loads as close to the body as possible.


ü Pace yourself appropriately to avoid fatigue when doing manual work for long periods.





Pulling and Feeding Cable


Pulling and feeding cable are movements that installation employees perform frequently during their job. If not performed correctly, these movements may potentially result in back injury. The best technique for this movement is described below.


1. In this case, you first reach out with your left hand to prepare for a pull. Before pulling the cable from the reel, your center of gravity is above your left foot.


. The moment you pull the cable towards your right hip the center of gravity moves from your left foot toward the middle of both your feet.


. With your right hand you reach toward a co-worker on a ladder and at the same moment you move your center of gravity toward your left foot. This is to prevent falling toward your right. You also stretch out your left hand to grasp the next piece of cable. So you move both your arms at the same time to the


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