There are over one million back injuries at work each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They account for 20% of all workplace injuries. Many of these injuries are due to manual lifting.
What can I do to prevent back injuries?
Your employer has a duty to provide you with safe working conditions. However, as a back injury will affect you more than it will your employer, you should also take steps to look after yourself. Here are some things you can do:
- Training: If your employer does not provide you with appropriate training, ask that they do. It is a legal requirement.
- Equipment: Employers should implement systems, equipment or machinery to lift heavy loads safely. You should use them where possible, even if it takes slightly longer to carry out the task.
- Do not let people pressure you: Busy workplaces and tight deadlines can lead bosses or colleagues to encourage you to lift loads that are too heavy. Avoid the temptation to save time by lifting or carrying something alone when it needs more than one person to do so safely.
- Understand the risks involved: Do not be tempted to lift something if you do not know how much it weighs. If you have to move an item somewhere, ensure you scout the route for hazards beforehand.
- Stop before it hurts: When you are tired, you increase your body’s risk of injury. Ensure you get adequate rest and breaks. Listening to your body’s signals is essential for your health.
See our information page to find out more about the workers’ compensation benefits you could be entitled to if you injure your back while lifting at work. Many back injuries are the result of a series of lifting excesses over time. While one last box may not seem like much, it might be one lift too many.