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Academic year: 2021

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Back Safety Program


This is (Enter Company Name Here) Back Safety Program. It meets all OSHA requirements and applies to all our work operations.

(Enter Name Here) will be responsible for overall direction of the Safety Program.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Further, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing employers billions of dollars. These figures do not begin to reflect the pain and suffering employees experience as a result of their injuries. Back injuries are very painful. They are difficult to heal, and they have an effect upon everything a person does. If you have ever experienced a back injury, you already know this. What you may not know is that after you have experienced one back injury, you are much more likely to experience another one sometime during your lifetime. It is important to learn

techniques and procedures that may help you prevent a recurrence.

If, on the other hand, you are lucky enough to have never injured your back, you can do yourself a big favor by learning how to prevent one in the future. By learning proper lifting techniques and the basics of back safety, you may be able to save yourself a lot of pain and a lifetime of back problems.

Types of Injuries:

Every time you bend over, lift a heavy object, or sit leaning forward, you put stress on the components of your back and spine. Over time, they can start to wear out and become damaged.

Many of the problems that cause back pain are the result of injury and degeneration of the disk. Degeneration is a process where wear and tear causes deterioration. The disk is subjected to different types of stress as we use our backs each day.

Injuries to the back can be caused by tearing or straining ligaments and muscles. Muscles can also spasm due to stress or tension.

The Forces Involved:

The amount of force placed on your back under certain conditions can be surprising. Anytime you bend or lean over to pick something up, you put tremendous pressure on your lower back.


Think of your back as a lever. With the fulcrum in the center of the lever, it only takes ten pounds of pressure to lift a ten pound object.

However, if you shift the fulcrum to one side, it takes much more force to lift the same object. Your waist actually acts like the fulcrum in a lever system, and it is not centered. In fact, it operates on a 10:1 ratio. Lifting a ten pound object actually puts 100 pounds of pressure on your lower back.

When you add in the 105 pounds of the average human upper torso, you see that lifting a ten pound object actually puts 1,150 pounds of pressure on the lower back.


If you were 25 pounds overweight, it would add an additional 250 pounds of pressure on your back every time you bend over.

Given these figures, it is easy to see how repetitive lifting and bending can quickly cause back problems. Even leaning forward while sitting at a desk or table can eventually cause damage and pain.

Contributing Factors:

The following are contributing factors to back injuries:

1. Poor physical condition - Your stomach muscles provide a lot of the support needed by your back. If you have weak, flabby stomach muscles, your back may not get all the support it needs, especially when you're lifting or carrying heavy objects. Good physical condition in general is important for preventing strains, sprains, and other injuries.

2. Poor posture - When your mother told you to sit and stand up straight, she was giving you good advice. It is best to try to maintain the back in its natural 'S' shaped curve. You want to avoid leaning forward (unsupported) when you sit, or hunching over while you're standing.

3. Extra weight - Remember the fulcrum lever principle? The more you weigh, the more stress it puts on your back every time you bend over on a 10:1 ratio.

4. Stress - Tense muscles are more susceptible to strains and spasms.

5. Overdoing it - Don't be afraid to say, 'This is too heavy for me to lift alone.' It's

important to recognize your own physical limitations and abilities. Many people have injured their backs because they were afraid to ask for help.

Causes of Back Injuries:

Many back injuries cannot be attributed to a single cause. They tend to be the result of cumulative damage suffered over a long period of time. However, certain actions, motions, and movements are more likely to cause and contribute to back injuries than others.


Anytime you find yourself doing one of these things, you should think: DANGER! My back is at risk!

1. Heavy lifting, especially repetitive lifting over a long period of time.

2. Twisting at the waist while lifting or holding a heavy load. This frequently happens when using a shovel.

3. Reaching and lifting over your head, across a table, or out the back of a truck. 4. Lifting or carrying objects with awkward or odd shapes.

5. It is also possible to injure your back slipping on a wet floor or ice.

6. Sitting or standing too long in one position. Sitting can be very hard on the lower back.

Avoid Lifting and Bending:

The best way to prevent back injuries is to develop habits that reduce the strain placed on the lower back. The following are some basic things you can do to help minimize these:

1. Anytime you can spare your back the stress and strain of lifting and bending do so. If you don't use your back like a lever, you avoid putting it under so much potentially damaging force.

2. Place objects off the floor. If you can set something down on a table or other elevated surface instead of on the floor, do it so you won't have to reach down to pick it up again.

3. Raise or lower shelves. The best zone for lifting is between your shoulders and your waist. Put heavier objects on shelves at waist level, lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.

4. Use carts and to move objects, instead of carrying them yourself. Remember that it is better on your back to push carts than it is to pull them.

5. Use cranes, hoists, lift tables, and other lift-assist devices whenever you can.

Use Proper Lifting Procedures:

You can't always avoid lifting, but there are ways to reduce the amount of pressure placed on the back when you do so. By bending the knees, you keep your spine in a better alignment, and you essentially take away the lever principle forces. Instead of using your back like a crane, you allow your legs to do the work.

Follow these steps when lifting:

1. Take a balanced stance with your feet about a shoulder-width apart. One foot can be behind the object and the other next to it.

2. Squat down to lift the object, but keep your heels off the floor. Get as close to the object as you can.


3. Use your palms (not just your fingers) to get a secure grip on the load. Make sure you'll be able to maintain a hold on the object without switching your grip later. 4. Lift gradually (without jerking) using your leg, abdominal and buttock muscles and

keeping the load as close to you as possible. Keep your chin tucked in so as to keep a relatively straight back and neck-line.

5. Once you're standing, change directions by pointing your feet in the direction you want to go and turning your whole body. Avoid twisting at your waist while carrying a load.


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