Industrial safety specialists strive to help employers provide a safe and productive environment for their employees. They analyze information about people, tasks, equipment, and workspace in industrial settings found in manufacturing, engineering, and construction. Although industries differ, some tasks may be similar to work performed elsewhere. Lifting and material handling are such tasks that are common to many types of industries such as automobile manufacturing or bridge building.
Industrial Jobs can be Demanding Physically
Jobs in an industrial environment are usually physically demanding and require workers to lift, push, pull, and handle heavy loads. Some individual tasks are repetitious and require the worker to stand or sit for extended time periods. Many industrial work environments involve lifting and material handling. Common causes of back and neck injury related to these tasks include lifting a heavy object from above the shoulders or below the knees, twisting the body while lifting, carrying an object to one side of the body, and bending over at the waist.
When manual lifting, carrying, and lowering are necessary, consider these suggestions:
Step 1: Assess the Situation
A) Assess the load and the situation by testing the weight by lifting one corner. If the object is too heavy, over-sized, or an awkward shape ask for a co-worker's help. If help is not available, consider using a mechanical lift or a hand truck.
B) Consider the following before lifting:
- When lifted, will the object obstruct your view?
- How far will you have to carry the object?
- Is the destination pathway clear?
- Is the pathway floor flat, slanted, cracked, uneven?
- Will curbs, stairs or doorways be encountered?
- Is there adequate height and width clearance in aisles?
- Does an area need to be cleared to receive the object?
C) Wear gloves to help grip the object and protect your hands.
Step 2: Lift, Carry, and Lower with Care
- Position yourself on center and close to the object.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep feet flat on the floor.
- Tighten your stomach muscles to help support the back.
- Grip the object and hold it close to your body.
- Bend your knees, keep the back straight, and lift using leg strength. The muscles in the legs are stronger and more powerful than your back muscles.
- While lifting, do not twist the body. Lift straight up smoothly - do not jerk the load.
- Look straight ahead, hold the load close, and walk toward your destination.
- Instead of twisting to change direction, turn the feet (e.g. pivot).
- Know where you plan to set the object down. Have a plan in mind.
- To lower and set the object down: keep the load close to your body, bend your knees, and let your leg muscles do the work to lower the object. Remember to keep your back straight and do not twist.
Article reprinted from Spine Universe