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Effective strategies to prevent workplace back injuries

The vast majority of workplace back injuries could be avoided if New Jersey workers and employers adhered to specific back injury prevention strategies. These strategies are not difficult to implement, but they do take discipline.

Ultimately, the rewards of a back injury free work environment should be more than enough motivation to encourage workers and employers to implement the following tips:

-- Prevent situations that promote back injury. Never stack heavy objects in a way that makes them more difficult to pick up.

-- Put things in smaller boxes so they're not as heavy. Don't purchase supplies in large 50-pound packages.

-- Stabilize objects being lifted. Using cables, and other ways of securing objects being lifted will prevent things from slipping out of control.

-- Make use of tools to assist in lifting. Conveyers, pneumatic lifts and strategically positioned ramps can do wonders to make lifting and moving objects easier.

-- Be sure that objects are equipped with handles and appropriately packaged. Having handles or appropriate packaging for an item can make it easier to lift and control to prevent unwanted injuries.

-- Change the heights of shelves and pallets. Lifting should occur between the heights of your shoulders and knees.

-- Install non-slip flooring and require workers to wear non-slip footwear. Slips and falls are a major cause of back injuries and should be prevented at all costs.

-- Appropriately attend to injuries as soon as they occur: Emergency medical care should be available immediately to any worker who is hurt. Follow-up rehabilitation care should also be implemented. Also, regular stretching and strength training programs should be carried out to prevent injuries.

If you suffered a back injury on the job, you can apply for workers' compensation benefits. If successfully navigated, a workers' compensation claim will bring a worker money to pay for all the medical care related to his workplace injury. It will also pay for his time spent recovering and unable to work in many cases.

Source: University of Minnesota, "Back injuries in the workplace," accessed March 24, 2017

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