Every time your workers lift a heavy item, they risk injuring themselves. Safe lifting practices can reduce the risk of injury and prevent expensive claims.
A Leading Cause of Workplace Injuries
Lifting is an everyday activity in many industries, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Incidents related to lifting are a leading cause of workplace injuries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that overexertion and repetitive motion are the primary causes of musculoskeletal disorders. In 2018, there were 272,780 days-away-from-work cases in the private sector involved musculoskeletal disorders. That’s 30% of all days-away-from-work cases.
More specifically, overexertion while lifting is a common cause of injury. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that overexertion while lifting was identified as one of leading types of events leading to days away from work or job transfer or restriction. The study looked at six industries. In general merchandise stores, one of the industries selected, overexertion while lifting resulting in 6,850 nonfatal occupational injuries in a single year.
Train Workers on Proper Lifting Techniques
Do not assume that workers know how to lift safely. Train all workers on the proper techniques, and provide reminders as needed.
Spread feet apart for good balance.
Stand as close to the object as possible.
Look forward and keep your back straight. Do not bend or twist at the waist, and do not bend forward.
Bend at your knees.
Secure a firm grip on the object.
Lift slowly, keeping your core muscles tight.
Place the object down carefully, using the same techniques.
Prevent Lifting Injuries
In addition to safe lifting techniques, other policies and procedures can help keep workers safe.
Store heavy items at waist level. According to Safety and Health Magazine and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, lifting from the floor is twice as risky because you have to bend down.
Get assistance. Employees should not try to push the limits of what they can lift on their own. When in doubt, they should use appropriate tools, such as a hand truck or dolly, or get another work to help them.
Warm up. Stretching before lifting can help prevent injuries. Stretch your back and legs.
Use protective equipment. Gloves, good shoes, and back braces can help keep workers safe.
Break up heavy loads. Workers may be tempted to move a lot at once to get the job done quickly, but that can result in serious injuries.
Keep the path clear. A worker carrying a heavy load may not be able to see tripping hazards in their way.
Download our Safe Lifting Practices Safety Tip and regularly train and monitor your team to ensure best practices are followed. Talk to the grocery insurance team at RiskPoint Advisors to ensure you have adequate protection against this costly exposure.
Joe Scarpello Melissa Johnson