Free Manual Handling Video – Assessing Manual Handling Risks
The safe handling of materials in your various facilities is one area that requires constant vigilance and training.
According to medical research 20% percent of back injuries are attributed to inflammation such as arthritis, 10% percent to do with actual back injuries and other miscellaneous causes and seventy percent result in degeneration spinal discs.
That’s right ageing of your spinal disc material causes the most trouble and can cause extreme pain even from routine body motions.
You’ve all heard the routine warnings about bending your knees are lifting with your legs but we always use that technique daily and we want to explain how the back works so you have enough information on how to lift anything safely.
There is no magic formula all you need is a good attitude about safety and a willingness to think about safety anytime you lift anything.
If you do that it is difficult to have an injury!
Anatomy of the spine. First – the mechanics:
Up the back of each disc is a circular pad and this disc looks a lot like a soft hockey puck with jelly on the inside.
The discs work like shock absorbers or springs that provide a linkage to the vertebrae or bones and prevent the sliding of your spine’s vertebrae against one another.
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves in a protected vertical passage behind the disc area.
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Nerve roots branch out through spaces between each vertebrae and go to different parts of the body.
While bending forward and backward you can see the nerve cords are in a vulnerable position because the spinal cord must bend and flex without the vertebrae slipping out of alignment.
It is quite easy to wear out a disc through normal movement as you bend.
In any moving your discs are working just like the shock absorbers in your car.
Discs can become damaged through excessive twisting turning and bending.
When this happens the disc space brings a slow leak and this can cause a loss of disc pressure.
This loss in pressure may press the disc against a nerve giving acute back pain and affecting the entire linkage.
It can happen at any age – you don’t have to be old to suffer a ruptured disc.
Back pain sufferers and all individuals should take constant attention to posture.
While standing, sitting, working and even while sleeping, pay attention to your posture.
Regular exercise is definitely encouraged which helps promote flexibility of the muscles and all the other body parts to keep them healthy.
The back works like any other machine on the lever principal.
You have a load and a counter-load.
The larger a lifting load on your back, balanced on a pivot point or centre of gravity, or the heavier the load is, the more counterweight you need or some position to help offset that load.
The back has a ten to one ratio to the object you’re lifting.
For example, if an object you attempt to lift weighs 10 kilograms it is going to take 100 kilograms of pressure in your back to lift the object.
This puts a lot of pressure on those delicate discs adding more weight and with an awkward position you’re adding much more pressure on those discs and of course the ligaments.
This is why you always hear safety and medical personnel banging on about everyone to bend legs and squat down to the object you going to lift.
This good lifting posture keeps the discs lining up correctly between the bones.
A classic lifting situation can be broken down into what could be called 5 important manual handling principles.
1. Assess the load in the area.
2. Ensure your feet are in the correct position shoulder with apart and flat on the ground.
3. Bend the knees.
4. Keep the back straight.
5. Get a good palm grip don’t use your fingertips.
6. Lift the objects by keeping the object close to your body – never twist your body.
7. Always move your feet in direction of movement.
The first thing you need to do with lifting is to assess the load and ensure you’re able to lift it.
Remember size can be deceiving.
Check the area in which you want to move is clear.
Next you must ensure your feet are in the correct position.
Shoulder width apart and flat along the ground gives you a good firm base.
Next bend your knees while keeping your back straight.
Then get a good palm grip don’t use your fingertips.
Lift the object slowly to prevent any jerking movements which can cause discs to move out of their proper alignment.
Bring the object close to your centre of gravity. This reduces the lifting pressure based upon the ten to one ratio of the lever principal.
The closer the load the less pressure it takes to lift.
Once you have a good grip and the object is close to your body, now stand up but never twist your body when lifting.
Always move your feet and direction of movement.
Remember you are using your leg muscles to do the lifting, not your back.
This is the standard method of lifting safely and it does work.
Need to lift heavy objects in less than ideal situations?
Keep in mind your discs support your back and ligaments can stretch and possibly tear.
Whenever you have a particularly difficult lift, please use good judgment and make the right decision how to lift properly.
Naturally if the load is too awkward or heavy, get some help.
If the lift is simply too heavy or too dangerous, don’t do it.
It only takes one bad lift to cause a serious problem.
But remember this also:
Perhaps you have been lifting improperly over time and your back is still in pretty good condition?
Sure, however damage can gradually build up over time therefore be urged to practice safe lifting at home play and at work. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn depending on the task.
In some cases, gloves should be worn especially with items having sharp edges such as glass and steel.
Goggles and safety shoes may also be required.