The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that lifting heavy objects is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. Shoulder and back injuries, often caused by overexertion and cumulative trauma, accounted for 36 percent of injuries involving missed workdays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Many lifting injuries can be prevented by following safe lifting practices. OSHA cites five common causes of lifting injuries and provides recommendations on how to avoid them.
Weight of Objects
Lifting heavy objects over 50 pounds increases the risk of injury. Possible solutions include using equipment such as forklifts or duct lifts to raise up heavy objects. Employees should hold heavy objects in their “power zone” – mid-thigh to mid-chest.
Bending, reaching, or carrying the load unevenly while lifting puts additional strain on the back and increases the risk of injury. To avoid awkward postures, employees should keep items in their “power zone” and move their feet, instead of twisting their torso. Employers should also maintain good housekeeping, so that employees can have unobstructed access to objects being lifted.
High-Frequency and Long-Duration Lifting
Repeated exertion or holding items for long periods of time increases the risk of back and shoulder injuries. Employees should take regular breaks and give their muscles time to rest and recuperate. Fixtures or boxes should be preassembled before being installed, and lightweight templates can be used to measure and cut before lifting heavy items overhead.
Inadequate handholds can cause the lifter to suffer injuries from contact stress or dropping the load. All boxes should have proper handholds that are big enough to accommodate gloved hands. Suction devices can be used to lift smooth, flat objects.
Excessively hot or cold temperatures, low visibility, and poor lighting can all contribute to the risk of sustaining a lift injury. Employers should adjust work schedules to avoid extreme temperatures and provide adequate lighting for workers. Wearing proper clothing and drinking plenty of water can help employees avoid lift injuries due to environmental factors.
Avoid Lifting Injuries at Work
Workers in all industries, from the office to the construction site, are at risk of sustaining injuries from lifting at work. The BLS reports that the back is the most commonly injured body part, accounting for 18.2 percent of all workplace injuries in 2013.
It is important that employees practice proper lifting techniques to avoid debilitating back injuries. Additionally, employers can implement some engineering controls – recommended by OSHA – which include making objects easier to lift by adjusting the height and using handles, and using mechanical aids such as automated material handling equipment or pneumatic lifts.
OSHA also recommends implementing some administrative controls, such as strength-testing workers, providing physical conditioning programs, and training employees on proper lifting techniques.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Who Sustained Injuries from Lifting at Work
If you were injured while lifting objects at work, contact a Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your medical expenses and lost wages. We represent clients throughout Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.
Our legal team provides skilled representation to those residing in and around Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.