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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Reduce the risks of back injuries from manual handling

Maralyn Kastel - Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Your back is particularly susceptible to manual handling injuries. The following are some suggestions for you to reduce the risks of musculoskeletal injuries to your back

  • Do some gentle stretches before starting any manual handling tasks when it’s cold.

  • Do make sure that you lift and carry heavy loads correctly.  Keep the load close to your body and lift with your thigh muscles. 

  • Don’t attempt to lift or carry loads if you think they are too heavy. Use mechanical or team lifts.

  • Push – don’t pull - Pushing a load (using your body weight to assist) is less stressful for your body than pulling a load. 

  • Organise - Make sure your work area is organised to reduce the amount of bending, twisting and stretching. 

  • Exercise regularly – This is important to improve posture and increase muscle support of the spine. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day. 

  • Lose any excess body fat to improve fitness. Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight puts an extra strain on your back. 

  • Lift and carry safely – if you are picking up a heavy load: squat down, hold the object as close to your body as practical and lift by using your legs, keeping your back straight. Quick tip – watch how very young children pick up an item.  They naturally do it right.  They learn bad habits from us!

  • Change your mattress – surfaces that are too soft or too hard can aggravate a sore back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

  • Be aware of your posture – consider your posture, particularly in seated positions such as when driving or sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Don’t slump or slouch. Keep your back upright and use support where necessary (use a lumbar support cushion or footstool).

    Most importantly make sure you examine the risks in the workplace relating to manual handling and you talk with your workers to identify appropriate risk controls.

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