Safe Lifting Rules: Preventing Back Injuries on the Job


One of the most common injuries associated with manual materials handling (MMH) is a low back injury. While unnatural postures and repeated movements can cause these injuries, the implementation of safe work practices can reduce the occurrence and severity of such injuries.

When possible, mechanical aids should be used. In addition, reducing MMH demands can help. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers these suggestions:

  • Decrease the weight of handled objects to acceptable limits.
  • Reduce the weight by assigning two people to lift the load or by splitting the load into two or more containers. Using light plastic containers also decreases the weight of the load.
  • Change the type of MMH movement. Lowering objects causes less strain than lifting. Pulling objects is easier than carrying. Pushing is less demanding than pulling.
  • Change work area layouts. Reducing the horizontal and vertical distances of lifting substantially lowers MMH demands. Reducing the travel distances for carrying, pushing or pulling also decreases work demands.
  • Assign more time for repetitive handling tasks. This reduces the frequency of handling and allows for more work/rest periods.
  • Alternate heavy tasks with lighter ones to reduce the build-up of fatigue.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to keep workers injury free? What are some additional strategies that have helped your workers?

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