Stone, Sand & Gravel REVIEW - September/October 2017 - 35
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"WATCH YOUR BACK"
PREVENT BACK INJURIES
BACK INJURIES ACCOUNT FOR about one-fourth of the lost-time injuries in the industry. The back
is a complex system consisting of five distinct spinal regions. The lumbar spine is made up of the five
vertebrae and six disks in the curved portion of the lower back and the most often-injured part of the
back. Lifting, bending and twisting motions, on or off the job, can cause severe injury and pain. Many
of these injuries could be avoided if workers practice a few basic and simple rules for back conservation
Try to minimize the need to move materials manually. If you must lift, remember that your body is
not a crane. Your back is not designed to "boom up," "boom down" or "boom to the side" with ease.
* Examine the load for grease, oil, sharp edges and other hazards.
* Know your limit and halve it; estimate the weight and divide the load or get help if the weight is
more than you can comfortably handle.
* Plan your path and consider how you will set down the load.
* Stand close to the load with your feet spread about shoulder width apart with one foot in front of
the other for balance.
* Squat down and tuck in your chin, while keeping your back as straight as possible.
* Lift with your legs by slowly straightening them and return your back to a vertical position when done.
* Turn only with your feet; do not twist your torso while you are lifting or carrying a load.
* Avoid lifting a load from below your knee level or from above your shoulder level and carry the load
close to your body.
* When mucking or shoveling, make sure that the material is loose, don't overload the shovel, bend
knees and hips and keep the back in a reasonably straight position.
Exercise your back regularly as the torso muscles are all interconnected and you must strengthen all
of them to help your back. Concentrate on exercises that strengthen each side equally, for example:
low-impact aerobics, high-speed walking, rowing, and swimming. Machines that allow you to simulate rowing, stair-climbing or cross-country skiing at home are useful for back conditioning as well.
Additionally, exercises that strengthen the lifting power of the legs can help the back by allowing the
legs to do more of the heavy lifting.
Be wary of activities with many sudden changes of direction or unnatural twisting, such as tennis
and golf. Even runners may injure their backs, especially if they don't do enough stretching.
Tobacco smoking diminishes the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the disks that cushion the vertebra. Thus, smokers are at increased risk of back trouble. Eliminate or at least diminish your use of
tobacco and your back will be the better for it.
STONE, SAND & GRAVEL REVIEW, www.nssga.org 35