The modern workplace has become safer, but often, the abundance of training materials and safety techniques can create confusion about how workers should do their jobs without injury. Most workers are keenly aware of the general rule of heavy lifting, thanks to a constant barrage of signs and reminders: lift with your legs, not your back.
Yet costs related to lower back pain in the US continue to reach over $100 billion each year—workers still dealing with back injuries at high rates. Fortunately, the root causes of the most frequent injuries can be isolated and corrected, as explained by our guest blogger Lori Frederic, owner of Balance Biomechanics.
Correcting the problem begins with identifying the major reasons why people are inclined to put a strain on their backs. Ultimately it comes down to habit; people use their backs because it feels easier and more efficient. We naturally train ourselves to exert the least amount of energy when performing an action. It feels easier to simply bend down and lift something with our backs rather than squat down to use our legs. Other physical factors come into play as well—knee pain can prevent a worker from bending their legs properly, and stiff or arthritic ankles make it a difficult task as well. Likewise, a lack of general strength in the legs can make it difficult to perform the full motion of lifting from a squat, even though it’s healthier to do so. By understanding the factors that compel people to use incorrect body mechanics like lifting from the back and overexerting it, it’s possible to isolate the root causes and train employees to use safe, healthy techniques. By changing risky behaviors through training and positive reinforcement, companies can reduce injuries that lead to high costs and lost productivity.
Lori Frederic, the owner of Balance Biomechanics and a DORN partner, provides a brief overview of how proper posture and technique can help address the most common causes of back pain in the workplace.