Backs & Lifting Training Guide
(Taken from the "Tailgate Meetings that Work : A Guide
to Effective Construction Safety Training" series)
Robin Baker, Robert
Downey, Mary Ruth Gross, Charles Reiter
Labor Occupational Health Program
(LOHP) School of Public Health,
University of California, Berkeley Ca.
talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The
complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program
at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website (www.lohp.org)
The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact
ACGIH, visit its web site (www.acgih.org).
Before you begin
- Does this topic
relate to the work the crew is doing? If not, choose another topic.
- Did you read
this Training Guide and fill in the blanks where the
appears? (To find the information you need, look over the Safety Walkaround
Checklist for this topic.)
- Did you bring
a large object (such as an empty box) so you can demonstrate lifting
techniques at the meeting?
your back! Abusing it can cause painful and even permanent injuries. Construction
workers miss work because of back injuries more than any other reason.
Your back can slowly get worse or can suddenly go out. Either
way, the results are the samea lot of pain and youre off work!
So lets talk about how to protect your back.
You or a crew member may want to add a personal story about back injuries.
THE CREW THESE QUESTIONS:
After each question,
give the crew time to suggest possible answers. Use the information following
each question to add points that no one mentions.
1. What are some
common causes of back injuries in construction?
- Lifting materials
that are too heavy or unstable
- Lifting objects
to or from awkward locations (for example, placing overhead or lifting
from the ground)
- Repetitive twisting,
bending, reaching overhead, or lifting
- Working for long
periods in a bent over or strained position
- Tripping over
- Wearing tool belts
that are too heavy
- Lifting or doing
any physical labor when you haven't "warmed up."
2. How can you
avoid back injuries on the job?
The best way is to
plan the job to reduce the need for lifting, twisting, bending, or reaching
overhead. Change how the job is done, or change the tools you use. Here
are some examples.
- Store materials
off the ground, so you dont have to bend so much to lift.
- Store materials
where there is space to lift them safely, without reaching or twisting.
- Have materials
delivered close to where they will be used.
- Split up large
loads into smaller, lighter loads.
- Change the setup
of the job. (Perhaps adjust the angle and height of work surfaces.)
- Use a manual
lifting or carrying device (like a dolly, hand truck, pry bar, or hook).
- Use a mechanical
lifting device (like a forklift, hoist, crane, or block and tackle).
- Use tools that
minimize bending and reaching (like tools with longer handles).
- Make sure walkways
are kept clear to allow the use of material handling devices like carts
how do you lift a heavy object safely? Tell me how to do it.
Remember that proper
lifting techniques cannot protect you if the object is too heavy, awkward
to hold, or cannot be held close to the body.
should demonstrate the steps below. Use an empty box or something similar
(not an object thats very heavy). Have the crew suggest correct
techniques for lifting the object and for setting it down. Demonstrate
these techniques as the crew instructs you.
- Face the object.
Place one foot behind the object and the other foot beside it.
- Bend your knees
but keep your back straight. Grip the object firmly with both hands.
- Bring the object
close to your body. Keep your chin, elbows, and arms tucked in tight.
Keep your body weight directly over your feet.
- Lift with your
- Do the same process
in reverse when you set the object down.
- Avoid any twisting
4. What about
back support belts? Are they a good way to protect yourself?
Most research says
that back belts will not protect you from back injuries.
- They can give
you a false sense of security, so you try to lift too much weight.
- Leaving the belt
tightened for long periods can actually increase your chances of being
injured when you have to lift without the belt.
- People who wear
belts have more upper back injuries.
- Belts can be
hazardous for people with high blood pressure.
- A belt should
never be a substitute for designing the job to minimize manual material
handling. Instead of a belt, use mechanical lifting when possible. If
you must lift manually, proper lifting techniques protect you better
than a belt
5. What are some
tasks on this job that could be bad for your back? And what can we do
to make these tasks safer?
6. According to
Cal/OSHA, we must have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program
(IIPP) for the site. Back and lifting hazards are included in our IIPP.
Do you know what our IIPP says about them?
- The company will
inspect the job site for all health and safety hazards, including
back and lifting hazards.
- We will take
steps to reduce any hazards, where feasible.
- We will investigate
accidents that cause back injury.
- We will provide
needed safety equipment, like manual and mechanical lifting devices.
- We will maintain
safety equipment in good condition, and keep it close to the work being
- We will give
The safety measures weve talked about are included in our companys
Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), as required by Cal/OSHA.
At this time, there are few specific Cal/OSHA regulations on back hazards
or lifting. However, Cal/OSHA did recently adopt a new ergonomics standard
designed to reduce repetitive motion injuries. On any construction job,
if there has been more than one ergonomic injury within a year to workers
doing the same task, the company must take steps to
identify and correct
these hazards. We must also provide relevant training. I have a Checklist
of recommended safety measures. If you'd like to know more, see me after
(Only if applicable.)
We have some additional company rules to prevent back injuries.
Do you have any other concerns about back injuries or lifting? Do you
see any problems on our job? (Let the steward answer first, if there
What about other jobs youve worked on? Have you had any experience
with back injuries or lifting that might help us work safer on this job?
OF THOSE WHO ATTENDED THIS SAFETY MEETING
Meetings That Work : Collection
Published in June, 1994 by: Labor Occupational Health Program, School
of Public Health, 2515 Channing Way, University of California, Berkeley,
CA 94720. Phone: (510) 642-5507.
Permission is granted to duplicate these materials for non-profit educational
purposes, provided that copies are not offered for sale.
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and/or copyright holder and may not be reproduced without their consent.
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