Lower Back Pain is No Small Problem – Ergonomics To The Rescue

Lower back pain is cited by OSHA as a common ergonomic health issue in most workplaces.Biomechanics and ergonomics may not be common “hot words” in the construction industry, but the average worker may be more familiar with things such as lower back pain and heavy lifting. Among the most common hazards in the workplace (in fact, the #1 ergonomic issue worldwide, according to a University of Sydney study), is lower back pain stemming from improper lifting techniques.

The recent study, tracking ergonomic exposure in 187 different countries worldwide, revealed that over the course of 20 years, lower back pain caused the loss of approximately 21.7 million “Disability-Adjusted Life Years” (DALY) – effectively an amount of time in an individual’s healthy life that is wasted dealing with disability and medical woes- in a total of 26% of the studied population. While over the 10 year span, DALYs actually decreased, lower back pain due to poor ergonomics in the workplace still proved to be the highest cause of this lost time.

Lower Back Pain and Back Injury Causes

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Technical Manual, Section VII: Chapter 1, the leading causes of back injuries in the workplace include:

  • Reaching to lift heavy objects
  • Poor posture while handling tools or lifting
  • Stressful work and living environment- including staying too long in one sitting or standing position
  • Poor “body mechanics,” i.e., how you go about lifting, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Physical condition- how good of shape you are in, endurance and strength with regards to lifting and carrying
  • Poor workstation design
  • Repetition- constantly lifting awkward or large items and equipment can cause unnecessary strain
  • Maintaining a “bent” posture
  • Lifting heavy objects- no matter how strong you are or how good your posture, heavy objects strain your back
  • Strain, tiredness, and fatigue
  • Other hazards such as slippery floors or improper traction
  • Forceful motions- lifting objects with a jerking or sudden motion
  • Repeated vibrations- often from driving lift trucks or forklifts

Avoid these back injuries, and keep yourself healthy, minimizing your own DALY losses in the workplace by taking proper precautions with your lifting. Pay careful attention during our approved OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Training or Construction course offered by OSHA 10 Hour Training. Our qualified, OSHA-authorized trainers will walk your employees through the requisite standards and regulations, among which include proper lower back pain prevention and safe lifting procedures. Click here to sign up now!