Heavy lifting mishaps make up 36 percent of all workplace injuries, and plenty of other people hurt themselves off the job by practicing improper lifting technique.
Whether you’re lifting heavy boxes or pieces of equipment as part of your job or are hauling furniture as part of a big move, you need to take extra care to protect yourself from serious damage.
Read on for some great tips on how to prevent and treat heavy lifting injuries.
Common Heavy Lifting Injuries
When they think of heavy lifting injuries, most people think of back problems. It’s true that you can hurt your back while lifting heavy objects, but there are plenty of other common heavy lifting injuries that you ought to be aware of, including the following:
- Shoulder injuries
- Neck injuries
- Foot injuries (from items being dropped on the toes or feet)
- Abdominal hernias
- Hand and finger injuries (from holding objects incorrectly)
How to Prevent Heavy Lifting Injuries
It’s always easier to prevent injuries than it is to treat them. By keeping these tips in mind, you can significantly decrease your risk of experiencing heavy lifting injuries.
Test the Object’s Weight
Before you take on a large, heavy object, start by testing out its weight. This will help you be able to determine whether or not you can lift it safely.
Try to lift one corner first. If you can lift it easily, you can probably manage the whole thing. If not, try to divide the load into smaller units or find someone who can help you transport it.
Once you know that you can lift an object, take steps to minimize issues that could hinder your ability to transport it safely.
One of the easiest things you can do is make sure you have a clear path in front of you. That way, you won’t have to worry about tripping over anything while carrying the object.
Make sure you know where you’re going to be setting it down, too.
Start by placing your feet close to the object. Then, center yourself in front of it.
Bend your knees and get a good grip. Then, keep the load close to your body as you lift straight up, letting your legs do the work. Avoid twisting or turning after making the lift — this can cause you to hurt your back.
If you do have to turn, initiate it with your feet first, rather than twisting your hips or shoulders.
Set the Load Down Correctly
The way you set your load down is just as important as the way you lift it up. When you’ve reached your destination, bend your knees to carefully lower it into place. Make sure your feet are safely out of the way.
Use Lifting Gear if Necessary
It’s also helpful to use lifting gear when lifting heavy objects repetitively.
Weight belts, lifting straps, dollies, and other equipment are good to keep on hand, especially if heavy lifting is a part of your job. These tools will help you distribute weight evenly and prevent acute injuries and overuse injuries.
How to Treat Heavy Lifting Injuries
If you do experience a heavy lifting injury, these tips can help you get back on your feet as soon as possible.
As soon as you hurt yourself, don’t try to lift any other objects. Take a break and give your back a rest.
Applying ice to the affected area is also helpful for reducing pain and swelling. Ice halts blood flow to the injured area and can keep an injury from getting worse.
Visit Your Doctor
Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also need to visit your doctor. This is especially true if you’ve been injured on the job.
Even if you think everything is fine, a doctor can rule out serious injuries and potential complications.
If you want or need to take time off work because of your injury, it’s also likely that you’ll need a doctor’s note.
Use Recovery Aids
If you’re dealing with a particularly serious injury — like a spinal cord injury or an abdominal hernia — you may also be able to benefit from using recovery aids.
Common recovery aids include nerve stimulation machines, compression clothing, and hernia belts for decreased recovery time from surgery.
Consider investing in these devices to speed up your recovery and get back to your daily tasks as soon as possible.