Year-in and year-out, one of the greatest contributors to employee injuries continues to be back sprain/strain− irrespective of the industry we look at. People who drive, load or unload vehicles are susceptible to this injury type just as much as those who are doing other forms of material handling. How are you likely to get hurt and what can you do to prevent from ending up on the injured and suffering list?
It’s almost too simple to suggest, but the first step is to keep in good physical condition, especially your stomach muscles. Weak stomach muscles and too much weight concentrated in the stomach area both put excessive loads on back muscles. Keep trim, lose weight and exercise regularly. At the beginning of every day, take five minutes to do stretching exercises. They may seem meaningless or silly − but they really do help prevent strained muscles.
When completing your daily pre-trip inspection, remember to squat down one knee or both knees, if necessary. Lean on your hands or knees to help support your body. Keep your back straight when checking under your vehicles, checking tires, headlights, etc.
Think first, when entering and exiting from vehicles. Try not to twist and stretch, especially if you are carrying a load of any type. Check your footing carefully and use all of the handholds and steps provided. Use three point contact whenever possible; two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. Be aware of wet, slippery surfaces which may cause you to lose your balance. Never jump off or out of any elevated surface or driving compartment. Climb out or off of, in reverse of how you entered.
Good posture can help reduce the stress placed on your back while driving. Your ears, hips and shoulders should be in a straight line. Adjust your seat so that your knees are at or above your hips, if possible. The wheel should be adjusted at an angle that is comfortable for your arms and shoulders. Adjust the lumbar support on your seat to provide the maximum support for your lower back. If your seat does not provide adequate lumbar support, consider using a pillow or rolled up towel to help provide lower back support.
Remove any objects from your back pockets, such as a wallet, which can tilt your hips and contribute to back pain.
When placing materials into or removing them from a vehicle, do this task as a separate operation, rather than combining it with your entry or exit. Think about how you can move the materials needed to be loaded while providing support to your body. Don’t lean over while lifting material − re-position your body to obtain maximum support from your legs.
Separate your load into smaller units so you don’t overburden your muscles (it’s easier to lift 120 pounds in three 40 pound increments). When loads are not devisable, get help either through use of a mechanical piece of equipment or a co-worker. Work smarter, not harder. Try to eliminate as much lifting as possible.
Continuously ask yourself, “How can I do this job smarter?”
If you have been involved in a period of physical inactivity for a time, before you start doing manual labor, stretch out. Loosening up your muscles can and does make a big difference in whether or not you end up on the injured list.
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For more information on loss control services contact: Jeff Rausch, email: email@example.com, P: 502-708-3124 www.assuredptrnl.comShare This: