Depending on your job title and responsibilities, you may be asked to lift heavy objects every day or every so often. For example, if you work in a warehouse, there's a good chance you'll be lifting throughout your day.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), back disorders are one of the top causes of disability for working Americans. Not all of these injuries are related to heavy lifting, but it goes without saying that this activity can take a toll on a person's back, neck and overall level of health.
There are many tips you can follow to ensure proper lifting technique, including:
- Lift with your legs: Not only should you bend at your knees when lifting, but you should also put the majority of the strain on your legs. This takes stress off your back, while allowing you to more easily handle the object. Also, you should never bend over to lift an object, but instead squat down to grab hold.
- Watch your posture: When lifting a heavy object, it's easy to lose track of your posture. However, if you get into the habit of keeping your head up, shoulders back and eyes ahead, you're taking the steps necessary in avoiding an injury.
- Don't rush: Even if you're busy, you should never rush when lifting heavy objects. Start by assessing the weight of the object, and then lift slowly and with caution. If you rush, you could make a mistake that causes an immediate injury.
- Ask for help: You should never attempt to lift an object that is too heavy for you to handle without assistance. If an object requires a team lift, wait for help to arrive before tackling the job. There is never a good time to be a hero when it comes to lifting.
Unfortunately, even if you follow proper lifting techniques you could still suffer an injury. If this happens, put the object down, stay where you are and seek medical treatment. Never assume that a little bit of rest is all you need to heal.
If your medical team suggests time away from work, don't ignore this advice. Let your employer know what's going on, and then file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.