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Using safer lifting practices to avoid workplace injuries

Lifting heavy objects in the workplace can cause Illinois workers to suffer from serious back and shoulder injuries. According to information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shoulder and back injuries accounted for a significant percentage of the injuries that involved missed workdays. The leading causes of these kinds of injuries were found to be cumulative trauma and overexertion.

Many workplace injuries can be avoided through the implementation of smarter lifting practices. Whenever possible, mechanical aids like forklifts and hand trucks should be used for heavy lifting rather than brute force. Materials that absolutely must be lifted by hand should always be placed at a height that is somewhere between a worker's mid-thigh and mid-chest. Employers should order materials in small quantities when possible, and workers should never be asked to lift more than 50 pounds by themselves.

When lifting objects, workers can avoid injuring themselves by practicing safe lifting techniques. If workers bend or twist in order to reach an object, they may risk suffering from a back sprain or spinal injury. Instead of bending at the waist, workers should keep a straight back and bend their knees in order to reach an object. The object should then be kept close to the body while it is being moved.

A worker who has suffered from a back or shoulder injury on the job may need weeks or even months to fully recover. During this time, the worker may apply for workers' compensation benefits to help cover medical expenses and missed wages. If the workplace injuries were the result of negligence attributable to a non-employer third party, it may in some cases be possible to file a personal injury action against that party as well.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration , "Materials Handling: Heavy Lifting", December 01, 2014

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