Training in and encouraging Safe Work Postures and Lifting Practices are essential to an effective injury prevention program.
Incorporating and Encouraging Safe Work Postures and Lifting Practices
An essential part of an effective injury prevention program is supporting the use of safe lifting practices or good body mechanics. Here are some ideas on getting safe work postures and principles incorporated into your program.
Safe Work Postures & Lifting Basics
We’ve all read and heard these rules many times before. These ideas don’t apply only in the workplace. They are great guidelines for staying safe, strong, comfortable and aware as we go through life!
– Test the load & have a plan – get help when in doubt and clear your path.
– Lift/push/pull smoothly and slowly. Don’t rush!
– Maintain the spine’s natural curves – ears, shoulders and hips are in line! Keep the shoulders back and chin in as well. Beware of your tendency to round your shoulders and thrust the head forward.
– Lift and lower the load with the legs. Bend at the hips and knees as you grasp and lift any object below mid-thigh.
– Keep a wide base of support – feet at shoulder width.
– Work in your “power zone” between the shoulders and mid-thigh whenever practical. The further the load or effort is from the body and the closer it is to the ground, the greater the compressive forces on the spine and stress at the joints.
– Don’t bend at the waist – Crouch, Kneel or Squat to avoid rounding the back. Half-squat to work at knee level. Kneel or squat to work below knee level.
– Don’t twist. When lifting or moving with an object, turn using your feet and legs, not by turning at the shoulders and twisting the back.
[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]Incorporating Safe Work Postures & Lifting Basics in Your Injury Prevention Program Effective injury prevention requires effort on six fronts. Here are examples of how safe lifting and work postures can be incorporated in an effective ergonomics program.
1) Engineered changes are the most effective. For example, do the tools used for mopping or scrubbing allow the worker to keep their hands in the power zone and help maintain the natural curve of the back? Can heavier supplies be stored in the power zone? Is a wide stance possible in storage or wet rooms? Would two shorter trash cans in place of one tall one lighten bags and keep the lift in the power zone when removing trash?
2) Administrative Controls: Create policies on how heavier and repetitive tasks are performed. For example, require that two workers perform room set-ups or furniture moves or implement a policy where employees report any unsafe work conditions. Policies should communicate a shared responsibility for safe work practices and conditions.
3) Personal Protective Equipment: PPE can be used to keep the work load in the “power zone.” For example, aprons allow workers to hold wet or greasy loads closer to the body.
4) Training and Education: Free training resources from OSHA, your state’s Occupational Health department and insurance companies. Consultants provide these services and materials as well. Encouraging new employees to start work with good work practices is particularly important. All training should include return demonstration, ongoing follow-up and encouragement.
5) Employee Involvement: This is the heart of instilling safe lifting and work practices. Consider having a “task of the month” at staff meetings where employees share their ideas and best practices. Select a heavy or repetitive task and review how these guidelines apply to that task. In an industry where people often work alone, having the opportunity to share ideas can have many positive results.
6) Monitoring: This is your opportunity to see how well your injury prevention program is working and identify any needed adjustments. It is also a way to head off future problems with performance, morale and potentially staff injuries with additional training. Make the message one of support and appreciation for the work – “we want to keep you around!”
Mark Barnett is the Head of Ergonomics for WorkSafe Technology Inc., and has eighteen years of full-time work experience in ergonomics with employers that include municipalities, counties, and healthcare providers. His expertise includes ergonomic assessments, job analysis, training, product research and trials.