Warm Up: There is real value in practicing basic stretching exercises for our hands, wrists, back and neck to prepare our bodies for work. Begin with your hands and wrists, stretching them thoroughly for the movements typically made at work. Stretch your neck gently from side to side and then from front to back. Stretch your back while sitting in a chair by bending your chin toward your knees.
Lift Properly: When lifting, first take a good look at the load. If it is too awkward, big or heavy, ask for help. Often, workers lift items too big for them simply because they are unwilling to ask for help, resulting in unnecessary pain and lost wages. Success at your job means asking for assistance when necessary.
Second, lift with your legs, never with your back. With a
straight back, keep weights at shoulder level. Bending at your waist while
lifting heavy objects can strain back muscles, causing pain and musculoskeletal
Third, avoid lifting and twisting in the same motion. Start
by getting the object off the ground. Then once your legs are straight you can
move your legs rather than twist your back.
Early symptoms of strain:
- Muscle aches and pain
- Eye fatigue
- Tingling, numbness, aching and/or warm sensations in the
hands or upper arm
- A decrease in grip strength
- Restricted breathing.
One final thought: back belts have not been proven to be an
effective injury-prevention measure when used alone. The only way to
effectively prevent back injury is to follow the correct lifting procedures,
with or without a back belt.
Take Breaks: Although operators can take many steps to avoid musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive-motion injuries and other ergonomic-related problems, one of the best ways to prevent pain is to recognize that muscles require periodic rest.
As you work, take regular breaks to stretch and rest your
muscles. If you spend a considerable amount of time sitting, regularly stand up
and stretch. When working on lengthy, detailed tasks, stop and stretch your
hands and wrists. And if you have been standing for long periods, sit down and
stretch your back.
Also look for opportunities to periodically switch tasks with
a coworker, to give one set of muscle groups a rest while using others. A
little common sense can go a long way in reducing your risk of pain and lost
wages in the long term.
Stay Alert: If you feel your workstation setup should be reviewed, bring this information to your supervisor’s attention. Everyone deserves to work without pain.
Finally, Don’t Forget Office Workers
… staring at computer screens all day. Provide glare-reducing attachments for monitors and avoid using red or blue backgrounds and fonts. Give your eyes a break and look away several times per hour. And, don’t forget to blink!
Sitting in a chair all day? Use lower back support and work on your posture. Try adjusting your chair and varying foot placement; maybe even use a box to raise your feet. Adjust keyboard height and angle, as well as mouse position. MF
See also: Pitcher Insurance Agency, Inc.