Lifting Right? Here are some quick tips to prevent back injury

Safety First

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than one million workers experience back injuries each year. One-fourth of all worker’s compensation indemnity claims are a result of back injuries. Low back pain is one of the most common reasons that people miss work, second only to the common cold. In America, we spend more than $100 billion annually on medical bills, disability, and lost productivity at work from back injuries and illnesses. More importantly, this problem causes unnecessary discomfort and pain to workers which can have a devastating effect on their lifestyle and ability to work. A BLS survey shows that 75% of back injuries occurred while performing lifting tasks, which underscores the importance of reducing back injuries caused by lifting.

#1 – Work Smart

Always warm – Up your back and legs before performing any lifting task! We are ALL athletes in life, so we need to warm up our bodies to improve performance and to reduce the risk of injury. It’s important to prepare your body for work.

Low Back Rotation Stretch – Stand with hands-on-hips. Stabilizing the hips and legs, gently roll your upper body forward, right, backward, and left to stretch your lower back. Perform 5 slow circles gradually expanding the circle each time. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Hamstring & Achilles Stretch – Position your body with one leg forward and the toes of that foot raised up. Keep your back straight while you bend forward at the waist. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh and knee. Then shift your weight onto your forward leg and bend your knee, keeping the back leg straight and heel on the floor. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds. Perform each stretch 2 times for each leg.

#2 – Before You Lift

  • Know what you are lifting and how you will lift it.
  • Be aware of the weight of the object.
  • Determine whether or not it’s safe to lift on your own.
  • Make sure the work area is flat, dry and clear of debris. CHECK YOUR PATHWAY
  • Make sure the lift pathway is clear .
  • Remove any tripping hazards or debris.
  • Check for any wet or slick surfaces.






  • Use lift assists, forklift, dolly, cart, hand truck, or hoist .
  • Make sure you are trained before using the equipment.


  • When lifting awkward or heavy loads, utilize a two-person lift.
  • Make sure you lift at the same time and keep the load level. WEAR PROPER PPE
  • Wear proper required protective shoes and gloves.

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Getting Workers to Use Their Protective Gear

Respiratory Protection

Small changes in training can lead to big results.

Buying safety equipment and getting workers to use it are two entirely different things. Anecdotally, almost every safety professional I’ve spoken to finds it much easier to go shopping for the latest hard hat and safety glasses than getting workers to comply with PPE requirements.

The usual advice to improve compliance to provide new, more comfortable PPE that looks good. But what happens when you’ve purchased new protective equipment that fits well and looks good, but it still doesn’t get used when it should?

There are several often-overlooked ways to get workers to wear their PPE. In most cases, these are small changes in what many workplaces are actually doing—but collectively, they can lead to major improvements.

The Whys of Training

Training should cover more than how to properly wear PPE. It should also discuss why. One of the biggest causes of PPE noncompliance is that many workers simply don’t think they need it. When they’re asked why they aren’t wearing PPE, people will often say things like, “I just never thought to put it on.”

PPE trainers should take a cue from basic marketing tactics and present workers with more impactful value propositions. Explain why PPE use is necessary, make it feel urgent, and appeal to them with compelling stories.

Good stories are personal and relevant. One of my own go-to stories is about a time when I was walking through a worksite—and out of the blue, a rivet struck my hard hat. It had been dropped by someone working on a raised platform several stories up and could have caused serious damage if I hadn’t been wearing PPE.

This story works well because it demonstrates that wearing PPE is a practical choice we can make to protect against other people’s mistakes. It also shows that I personally believe in the value of PPE, and it provides a good prompt for a discussion about when it’s necessary to wear hard hats.


More than Monthly

If you want PPE use to become a regular practice, then you need to make it a regular topic of conversation. This means discussing PPE with workers at every opportunity and from every angle. Provide verbal refreshers of key teaching points from PPE training, talk about why it’s so important to wear PPE and chat about different situations in which workers may be tempted to remove their PPE so that people will be on the alert and prepared to act in the safest manner possible.

These refreshers can be delivered in a variety of ways. At the end of a one-on-one conversation with a worker, take a few moments to remind them about PPE issues. You can also discuss PPE when assigning workers to new tasks or when talking to them about non-safety elements of their job. Also consider more passive forms of reminders, such as noting PPE requirements in safety posters, and on video displays in break rooms and other common areas.

Many manufacturing companies already have group discussions built into the work schedule. In most cases, these are either monthly safety meetings or weekly toolbox talks. A short conversation about PPE can usually be worked into these meetings with minimal effort. But monthly discussions typically aren’t enough (especially because other safety issues also need to be covered).


When It’s Time for an Intervention

Sometimes proper training and regular toolbox talks on PPE isn’t enough to get everyone to comply. If someone consistently fails to wear their PPE, then it’s time to have a one-on-one conversation with them.

The conversation should be direct but it shouldn’t be focused on reprimanding the worker for unsafe actions. Instead, let the worker share why they think certain behavior is acceptable and then have the supervisor follow up with an explanation of the risks.

People are more likely to listen if they feel listened to in turn, and if they believe in the underlying need for PPE rules. So even when a frank conversation is required because someone isn’t wearing safety gloves or eye protection, it’s still important to focus not on current noncompliance but on desired behavior in the future.


From Decision to Habit

Every time a worker makes the decision to use PPE, there’s always a small chance they could choose to not use PPE. That’s why the goal is to transform PPE use into an unconscious habit.

It’s not something that happens overnight. In most cases, building safety habits requires a lot of small course corrections and encouragement, both of which come from group and individual conversations. Eventually, though, PPE use will go from being a rule that must be enforced to something that happens automatically.


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Tips for Encouraging PPE Wearer Compliance – Part 2


Eye Protection

Comfort Inspires Compliance

One of the best ways to motivate employees to wear their PPE consistently and correctly is to ensure it is as comfortable as possible. However, selecting comfortable PPE is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Comfort is largely subjective, and the best way to find PPE that addresses wearers’ preferences is to work with a manufacturer to conduct a wear trial. Through a wear trial, employees can try various PPE options on the job to determine which items work best for them.


One of the primary factors that contribute to comfort is fit

PPE that is too loose or too tight is likely to be uncomfortable and, in some cases, even can endanger the wearer by failing to provide effective protection. To ensure the best fit possible, consider the individual needs of the various employees who will be using the PPE. When choosing products for female workers, look for styles developed specifically for women. And if employees do not fit into stock sizes, work with a manufacturer that offers customization options.

As you work to identify the most comfortable PPE for your work environment, be sure to consider the types of work being performed, the environment the work is performed in, and, of course, the hazards that may be present.


Convenience Is Key

Even if PPE is relatively comfortable, employees may still choose to forgo protection in favor of convenience. If putting on the appropriate PPE is time-consuming and cumbersome, the temptation to skip it becomes much stronger.

Let’s go back to the example of employees working in a laboratory where a separate chemical-barrier apron must be worn over their lab coats. If, in addition to the challenge of remembering to put on the aprons, the employees also had to walk into a different room to get them, the combined discomfort of the stiff aprons and inconvenience of wearing them would be a recipe for non-compliance.

Fortunately, in this particular scenario, as well as many others, resolving the issue is as simple as taking advantage of new product innovations. New lab coats offering chemical-splash protection (CP) are now available, eliminating the need to put on two separate protective garments. Furthermore, these lightweight, breathable lab coats are significantly more comfortable than chemical-barrier aprons and disposable protective lab coats.

Whether it is accomplished by implementing new products or other changes, the best way to maximize convenience and, therefore, compliance, is to make sure that the necessary PPE is accessible and easy to use. Whenever possible, it is also a good idea to try to reduce the number of separate PPE items necessary for proper protection.

Multi-Hazard Makes a Difference

One way to reduce the quantity of PPE components that employees will need is to choose products that offer multi-hazard protection. According to Frost and Sullivan’s North American Industrial Protective Clothing Market Forecast to 2020, apparel with multiple protective functionalities is becoming increasingly popular. This isn’t surprising, considering that many occupations involve more than one hazard.

Consider an environment that faces both chemical-splash hazards and thermal hazards, such as arc flash and flash fire. This exact scenario can be found in many laboratories, chemical processing plants, pharmaceutical companies, and manufacturing facilities where paints, cleaners, coatings, batteries, agricultural chemicals, or LEDs are used. Until recently, workers in these environments would have needed both an FR garment and a garment that protects against chemical splash. But now, protection against these two hazards can be found in lab coats and coveralls that offer FR properties combined with chemical-splash protection (CP). Not only do these FR/CP products provide multi-hazard protection, but they are also comfortable and designed to be worn as all-day attire—all of which support increased wearer compliance.

Multi-hazard protection extends beyond FR/CP products, as well. For example, some products offer simultaneous protection against flash fire, arc flash, and molten metal splatter. Other products combine high visibility with FR protection. When evaluating your multi-hazard protection options, be sure to consult all of the safety standards that apply to your industry to ensure the items you choose, offer the necessary level of protection.

Inspiring wearer compliance is far from an exact science, but optimizing comfort and convenience can go a long way toward encouraging proper PPE use. And with recent innovations, such as multi-hazard protection products, finding PPE that employees will want to wear is easier than ever.


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Tips for Encouraging PPE Wearer Compliance – Part 1

Respiratory Protection

The best way to prevent costly injuries is to promote safe work practices, provide the necessary PPE, and do everything possible to encourage wearer compliance.

  1. You painstakingly identified all the hazards in your workplace.
  2. You consulted each of the relevant safety standards and OSHA regulations.
  3. You implemented a comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) program and made sure every employee was supplied with the necessary gear and trained on how to use it properly. Everything went great for about a week. And then employees started wearing their PPE incorrectly, or even skipping it altogether.

What went wrong?

Why Compliance is Essential
When employees wear their PPE incorrectly or forgo it entirely, they put themselves at risk. There are countless devastating headlines to remind us of the tragedies that can occur in the workplace if safety hazards are not addressed responsibly. And even something as simple as rolling up the sleeves of a flame-resistant (FR) shirt and leaving the arms unprotected can have serious consequences.

Beyond the tragedy of human injury and loss, workplace accidents can be incredibly costly financially. For example, a single burn injury can cost a company millions of dollars in OSHA fines, hospital fees, legal costs, increased insurance premiums, reputation damage, and lost productivity. While some of these costs may not apply if the injury is truly a result of noncompliance and the employer is not at fault, there are no guarantees.

The best way to prevent costly injuries is to promote safe work practices, provide the necessary PPE, and do everything possible to encourage wearer compliance.

Barriers to Compliance
There are numerous reasons employees may not wear their PPE compliantly. One of the most obvious reasons is that PPE is uncomfortable. When PPE doesn’t fit well, isn’t appropriate for the weather conditions, or is made from materials that cause irritation, employees are much more likely to skip wearing it, or at least make unsafe modifications to it in an attempt to alleviate discomfort.

In addition to discomfort, forgetfulness can contribute to noncompliance. And the more PPE items an employee has to wear to achieve adequate protection, the more likely it is that one of those items will slip his or her mind. For example, if an employee working in a laboratory has to remember to put on a separate chemical-barrier apron over the lab coat he is already wearing before performing certain tasks, he may get caught up in his work and neglect to put on the additional layer of protective gear.

Of course, even if employees do remember all of the layers of protective equipment they need, the inconvenience of having to put on and take off multiple items may deter them from wearing all of the necessary PPE.

As employees begin to regularly neglect PPE, regardless of the reasons for their initial non-compliance, it can lead to normalization of deviance—the tendency for behaviors that were once considered unacceptable to become commonplace and seemingly permissible. Normalization of deviance is a result of complacency. Employees may recognize a hazard exists, but because they’ve performed a given task many times without an accident, it becomes tempting for them to skip putting on the necessary protection. To make matters worse, newer workers may see veterans forgo PPE and think they can do the same. Pretty soon, noncompliance becomes the new workplace culture.

Fortunately, strategic PPE selection can go a long way toward encouraging compliance. And there are a few basic considerations that can help you make more effective PPE choices.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming next week!


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