Toolbox Talk: Your Back IQ Test
Guide for Discussion: Lifting safely is one the most important things you can do to protect your back throughout your lifetime. Back injuries are a painful, sometimes debilitating, problem in many industries. The key to back care lies with the individual worker. Everyone should be a back care “expert” and be able to answer the following questions:
Q: What’s the most important lifting rule to remember? (Wait for some answers)
A: Keep The Load Close! There are many other lifting rules, like “bend your knees and lift with your legs,” but you can’t do this in every situation. Research has also shown that leg muscles become fatigued when frequent lifts are required, so other techniques must be used as well.
Q: If you don’t hold a load close to your body, how much heavier is the “experienced” weight than the actual weight?
A: Ten times as heavy! The back operates as a simple lever, with the fulcrum in the lower back. Back muscles serve as the power arm; the load being lifted is the weight arm, and a 10-1 lever ratio exists in the lower back. The further away you hold the load, the “heavier” it is.
Q: Why never twist with a load? (Wait for some answers)
A: Lumbar (lower back) vertebrae, disks and joints are under the most vertical pressure when lifting a load. Twisting with a load creates a “shearing” effect on these tissues. The more “mileage” you have on your back, the less forgiving it will be under this pressure.
Q: Which muscles are most important for keeping the spine in its strong S-shaped curve? (Wait for some answers)
A: Abdominal muscles, which work in cooperation with back muscles to support your spine. The trouble is, abdominals tend to weaken over time. It helps to tighten them during a heavy lift, but more importantly, keep them in good shape.
Q: How can stress in your life effect back pain? (Wait for some answers)
A: Whether you’re aware of it or not, emotional stress can tighten muscles. Often, fatigued back muscles are the most effected and the first to feel it. It’s been said that back ache is just a tension headache that “slipped.”
Q: What time of the day are back strains most likely to happen? (Wait for some answers)
A: In the morning, or at the beginning of a work shift, when muscles aren’t “warmed up.” Trends also show an increase following the lunch hour, perhaps because blood circulation is in the stomach, instead of the large muscles, and because people may be sleepy and inattentive then.
Q: How does keeping flexible help prevent back and muscle strains? (Wait for some answers)
A: Muscles tend to shorten when not used to their full capacity. Flexible muscles are less likely to be strained and injured than “tight” muscles, when sudden or heavy power is required. Pre-work stretching programs like we do have been very successful in preventing back and muscle strains through many industries. Take a tip from professional athletes–they warm up before a game! Even five minutes helps!
Note: Always promote a discussion on any of the topics covered in the Construct Corps Tool Box Talk. Should any question arise that you cannot answer, don’t hesitate to contact our OSHA authorized instructor:
Marcos Caballero phone: (813) 498-0659 email: MCaballero@ConstructCorps.com
About Construct Corps, LLC: Construct Corps is a skilled trades construction staffing company, providing qualified workers to commercial, industrial, and residential contractors. Offering superior service since 2000, Construct Corps believes there is a right way to do things and that mutual success is the byproduct of sound principles. Services are priced fairly and the best solution is recommended, even if it is not one offered by Construct Corps. Market data reports are available complimentary. Combine this with unique systems and processes that help insure a high staffing success rate, and Construct Corps is dispelling the myth that all construction staffing companies are the same.