ANSI Z308.1-2015 Standard Minimum Requirements  Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies - Buy new ANSI Kits
ANSI Z308.1-2015 Standard Minimum Requirements Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies - Buy new ANSI Kits

Back Care and Safe Lifting

Safe-Back-LiftingOne very important reason to follow safe lifting practices is to protect your back. Unsafe lifting can either be an immediate harm or cause problems over a period of time.  Either way, lifting can result in serious back problems.  The spine is made up of many small bones called vertebrae.  In between each vertebra is a disc that acts like a cushion between the bones. When you are young, there is plenty of fluid that lubricates each disc.  The older you get, the more stiff and rigid the discs become.  You don’t necessarily notice any change in your discs as you grow older because there are no nerves within the discs.  As your discs become weakened from pressure, they can rupture.  When this happens, the jell-like substance inside of the disc squeezes out.  It puts pressure on the nerve in the spinal column creating pain.


When standing straight, the back supports 70-80% of body weight.  For example, a 200lb person’s spine supports 160lbs.  Bending at the waist, the weight the back supports increases by 6 times. (160lbs. X 6 = 960lbs.)

Lifting a weight of 45 lbs. while bending, multiplies the weight the back must lift by 6. (45lbs. X 6 = 270lbs.)  Therefore, a 200lb. person incorrectly lifting a 45lb. object is forcing the spine to support 1,230lbs. (960lbs. + 270lbs. =1,230lbs.)


Your back is very prone to muscle tension.  When you get a muscle spasm, you will know by the jabbing pain.  You also may feel a knot in the muscle.  This is the muscle contracting.  It is the body’s natural way of preventing more damage to your spine.  The spasm chokes off the oxygen and circulation.  Lactic acid and other waste products build up in the muscle.  The muscle gets more stiff and shortens.  This causes pressure on the spine.  The spine becomes “locked” and you can no longer move freely.


It takes effort to relax muscles in this cycle.  The body tends to tense up even more from pain.  To break the pain cycle:

  • Find your comfort zone and hold your body in that position in whatever activity you do. Keep in mind good posture.  Stand and sit erect with your feet planted firmly on the ground.  Keep the hips tilted slightly forward with the abdomen and buttocks firm.
  • During the first 24 hours, ice and rest are the best ways to take care of a muscle spasm. Apply an ice bag for 10-15 minutes.  Repeat once or twice over the next 8-12 hours.  Heat can be used after the first 24 hours.  Never use a heating pad for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.
  • Medication may help relax painful muscles. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are the best over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs.  Use prescription muscle relaxants or sedatives carefully.  They actually disrupts true relaxation and sleep.  Alcohol or illegal drugs only mask pain temporarily and prolong the pain cycle.
  • Relax your mind. Sit or lie comfortably. Tighten each muscle for the count of 5.  Relax and breathe deeply after tensing each muscle.
  • If you continue to experience pain that cannot be relieved with changing positions , applying ice, massage, or relaxation, consult your doctor.


  • Plan each lift before you start, including the path you will be traveling.
  • Size up the load. Can you carry it or do you need help?
  • Get any needed equipment to help transport the load - including a hand truck, pushcart, forklift or wheelbarrow. Use snug-fitting gloves to help you grip the load you’re about to lift.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible.
  • Crouch, don’t squat.
  • Get close to the load, and hug it to your body before lifting.
  • Keep your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line.
  • Reverse the steps for lifting when setting the load down - keeping the pressure on your arms and legs, not on your back.
  • Prevent back strains by not bending at the waist to pick up any object.


Keeping your body strong and flexible is your best insurance against back injury.

  • Do strengthening exercises to build support for your spine. They strengthen the abdomen and lower back.
  • Move your body on a regular basis. Whole body exercises, like brisk walking, bike riding, and swimming improve circulation and help tone all the muscles in the body.  Exercising 3 times a week for 30 minutes a session will help you stay in shape.
  • Extra weight can place more stress on your back. When you stay at your proper weight, you take much of the strain off your back.
  • Stretch to increase flexibility. Get in the habit of stretching every day.


  • Let your abdomen, legs, and buttocks do the work.
  • Get close to the load. Grab the load safely with your hands placed under the object.
  • Bend your knees, with feet slightly spread for balance and stability.
  • Keep your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line as you lift. Do not twist.
  • Reverse these steps when you set a load down. Move slowly and smoothly without twisting.
  • To change direction of carry, do not twist. This is especially crucial when doing repetitive lifting.  Turn your entire body, including your feet.
  • Never lift from a sitting position. Sitting puts more pressure on the spine. Stand before you lift.
  • Push rather than pull a load.

When the object is too heavy for one person to lift, admit it and get some help.

Back Safety

Back Safety - OSHA Safety Training: For many employees, back injuries are something that "happens to the other person... not to me." Yet four out of five people will experience some type of back problems during their lives. And many back injuries are caused by common activities experienced both on and off the job... such as lifting, climbing, reaching, etc.

Our training products on "Back Safety" emphasize the importance of overall back care, both at work and at home, including exercises and weight control. Topics covered in these products include:

  • How the back works.
  • Common types and causes of back injuries.
  • Effects of back injuries.
  • Injury prevention and safety practices.
  • Proper lifting techniques.
  • and more.

Get a Quote for a Class:
Back Safety Live Instruction Training Courses at YOUR Location


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