Heavy Lifting Injuries – A Major Cause of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claims

September 8, 2017

Almost every type of manual labor job involves heavy lifting of inventory, tools, equipment, furniture, and other items. The trucking, warehouse, agricultural, and construction industry employees are prone to many heavy lifting injuries. Nurses and home-health care workers often suffer a lot of heavy-lifting ailments. Heavy lifting can damage the spine, hurt the back, and affect the shoulders. Other possible injuries due to heavy lifting include pulled and strained muscles and arm and wrist injuries.

Strategies to minimize lifting injuries in the workplace

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor confirms that 36% of days lost by injured workers were due to back and shoulder problems. The Labor Department recommends that workers and employers minimize the risk of serious injury in the following ways:

  • Limit the weight of the objects. Loads, if possible, should be less than 50 pounds. To help with lifting heavy items, workers should use fork lifts, duct lifts, and other mechanical devices. Hand trucks should be used to transport heavy objects.
  • Educate workers on the proper way to lift objects:
    • Don’t bend at the waist—bend at the knee
    • Position heavy objects between the chest and mid-thighs
    • Make sure the worker has the proper leverage before beginning to move
    • Don’t carry items on the shoulder or with one arm
    • Position objects on a table or shelf so the worker doesn’t have to lift from the ground
    • Keep the elbows near you to avoid the instinct to reach
    • Use buckets and other objects that have handles to help carry the load
  • Consider practical solutions such as:
    • Using ramps to load objects
    • Using suction devices to help lift items that have a flat surface
    • Ordering items in smaller amounts
    • Using two or more people to do the lifting together
    • Balancing loads so that each hand is carrying similar weight

Holding objects for a long time can cause back, shoulder, and neck pain, even if the objects aren’t that heavy, because the stress tires the muscles. Possible solutions include having a place to rest the object while decisions are being made on what to do with it, having other workers hold the object for a while, and taking periodic breaks. Workers and employers should also understand that excessive heat or cold makes lifting more difficult. Workers should be properly hydrated and should wear the right clothing for each season.

Many muscle, soft tissue, and ligament damage injuries can take a long time to heal. Often workers who suffer spinal damage live with chronic pain. At Larry Pitt & Associates, we fight for workers who are being pushed to return back to work too soon. Our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers demand that workers get their lost wages and that a priority is placed on getting the worker as healthy as possible. For strong advocacy, please phone 888.PITT.LAW to discuss your case or complete our contact form to make an appointment. Our office represents injured employees in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.