Back Injuries and Prevention Safety Toolbox Talk

August 19, 2021
By N. Nicholas, ASP
Back Injuries and Prevention toolbox talk

Back injuries are some of the most prevalent and the hardest to prevent on the job. 

Workers in a variety of industries are susceptible to back injuries, including landscaping, factory work, office jobs and agriculture.

Although many back injuries can be attributed to age or improper lifting techniques, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of experiencing an on-the-job back injury.

1. Wear the appropriate gear.

Comfortable shoes are imperative for those who stand all day around construction sites or factories.

Back injuries often come as a result of being off-balance because of improper footwear or equipment malfunction. To ensure stability, shoes should have thick soles and adequate support, with leather uppers that breathe.

Running shoes are not appropriate for those on the clock; steel-toes should be worn during all strenuous activities to protect against foot and toe injuries as well as back injuries sustained from being knocked over or falling down.

Steel toes also help protect against objects, such as tools, that could cause injury in a workplace accident.

2. Take breaks.  

Take your time moving heavy items with your coworkers—don’t try and do it all alone!

If you must lift something heavy, get someone to assist you by first asking them to take some of the weight. Before lifting anything above waist level, bend at the knees [not knees and lower back] before lifting.

Lift slowly and smoothly for repetitious tasks like stacking or filing. If you must move something particularly tall, roll it on wheels to reduce strain on your back and legs.

3. Perform stretches daily. 

Stretching is especially important before any strenuous physical activity, but an easy way to stay limber during the day is through stretching exercises like these:  

Static standing knee bends: which help strengthen the glutes and lower back muscles, are performed by placing one foot forward while keeping both feet straight out behind you with toes pointed slightly outward (with a stable stance). Bend your knees slowly until you feel a nice stretch in the hamstrings of your back leg; hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.

For general looseness of all upper body joints, try the arm circles below.  

To perform them, stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides; slowly move your right arm in a circular motion across your body until it is all the way around.

When you are facing up again, gradually reverse direction back to where you started; continue making large circular motions until you start to feel a slight burn or soreness in the chest muscles—this usually takes about 10 full rotations on each side for most people!

4. Maintain correct posture

Sitting up straight helps maintain proper alignment of spinal bones to reduce stress on all joints.

Those who work long hours at a desk should use a lumbar cushion to keep their backs supported in an upright position; this allows the spine to remain neutral as well as feeling more comfortable when sitting still for long periods.

Having the right equipment and doing the right exercises can help keep back injuries from occurring in all types of work environments.

Whether you’re a construction worker or just typing away at your own desk, these tips can improve overall health while also preventing injury to the lower back!

5.Use the proper lifting technique when lifting loads.

What is the best way to lift a load? Lifting a load involves using your legs, and not just your back.

When lifting a load, keep the load close to your body with both hands positioned at or below your knees. If you are unable to hold onto the object because it is too large or heavy, use mechanical devices such as a pallet jack, hand trucks or load lifters.

To lift a load off the ground, use your legs to bend at the knees. Lift with your legs and not your back!

Keeping your back straight (not bent), slowly squat down to lift the object from the floor.

Once upright and standing on both feet, slowly raise straight up, using your legs and keeping the object close to your body. Avoid jerky movements or twisting your upper body—this can cause back injury.

Take the right steps to prevent back injuries at home and in the workplace.

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