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The National Safety Council highlights overexertion prevention in June

June 1, 2011

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Overexertion is one of the topics highlighted in June for National Safety Month 2011, sponsored by the National Safety Council. The council and NIOSH recommend using both administrative controls and worker training to prevent injuries and illnesses related to overexertion. Administrative controls to reduce overexertion injuries include:

  • Plan the workflow to avoid unnecessary lifts, or minimize the distance loads must be carried.
  • Tag all heavy or unstable loads. Reduce the weight by putting fewer items in a container or using smaller or lighter-weight containers.
  • Pack containers so the weight is evenly distributed.
  • Position pallet loads at heights that allow workers to lift from their power zone – above the knees, below the shoulders and close to the body. Avoid storing materials on the floor.
  • Rotate workers between lifting and non-lifting tasks. Allow periodic breaks to ensure workers have adequate rest.

NIOSH recommends that workers take the following measures to avoid overexertion injuries when lifting:

  • Always use mechanical lift devices, when available.
  • Before lifting, check the load for stability and weight.
  • Lift only as much as you can safely handle on your own. If required, make several trips carrying lighter weight.
  • Use your legs to lift the load rather than your back or upper body.
  • Use smooth, even motions to avoid jerking.
  • Step to the side when you need to turn – do not twist your body.
  • Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones.

For more information on National Safety Month, as well as materials and resources, go to www.nsc.org/nsm.

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