March 17, 2023
Accidents cost you time and money. However, we aren’t just talking about driving accidents. We’re also talking about accidents that lead to personal injuries, like failing to use proper body mechanics while lifting something at work.
Without proper body mechanics, your fleet drivers face the risk of serious and potentially lifelong back injuries. Let’s look at some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics so you understand what we mean:
These accidents are common. If they happen to your employees, it leads to workers’ comp claims and losing team members indefinitely. Any resources put towards preventing these injuries will save you time and money.
If you and your non-CDL drivers learn about proper body mechanics for lifting, your company will have fewer accidents and a reduced cost of loss. This leads to a more efficient and profitable operation.
Depending on your business model and market, your drivers may be tasked with lifting a variety of objects throughout the day. This could range from objects as heavy as lawn care equipment to something as light as traffic cones or bottles of chemicals.
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The fact is, regardless of the weight of an object, improper lifting techniques can cause serious injury. These injuries happen when we bend at the waist to pick something up.
Bending at the waist causes injuries because the back is not a lifting device, but when we bend at the waist to pick something up, we’re forcing our back to lift it.
The back muscles and spine are only meant to support our torso and head. They aren’t meant to lift the torso and head, let alone the weight of another object we’re holding.
So, when your drivers bend at the waist to pick something up, they’re risking serious injuries to their back and spine such as:
These injuries can last a lifetime. Sometimes they require surgery. What’s worse is these injuries are cumulative. That means that they add up over time. One of your drivers may spend years improperly lifting then, one day, bend over to tie their shoe and end up on the floor clutching their back in pain.
The solution? Teach your light-duty fleet drivers about proper body mechanics for lifting.
The Six-Step Plan for Safe Lifting
Hopefully, it’s clear by now that back injuries are serious. They cause pain and suffering for your employees, and they lead to a rising cost of loss for you. That’s why it’s important to teach proper body mechanics for lifting.
There are six steps to safely lifting an object, but first, we need to cover the two most important pointers:
Just these two steps go a long way to preventing back injuries, but if you want to completely remove these injuries from your company, it’s important to teach this comprehensive process to your employees.
Lifting injuries are much less likely to happen to people who are in good physical condition. Your employees don’t need to be bodybuilders, but some basic “maintenance” can go a long way:
Q: Do weight belts help with lifting?
A: Yes, but they might not be necessary for your drivers. Weight belts help to reduce stress on the lower back while you lift in an upright position, and it prevents back hyperextension during overhead lifts. If your drivers do not have to frequently lift or lift heavy objects, they are not as important.
Q: Are proper lifting techniques required by OSHA?
A: Not directly, no. However, as we mentioned several times, these accidents are still extremely common and important to prevent. Additionally, OSHA does have the General Duty Clause, meaning Fleet Managers are expected to take steps to prevent common injuries such as lifting injuries.
Q: How do I get my employees to adopt proper lifting techniques?
A: This question is equally important as addressing safe lifting techniques in and of themselves. If your employees don’t put them to use, it’s a waste of time. First, you need to set the expectation with your employees. Let them know that safe lifting techniques are important to preventing serious injuries. And, share your company policies on lifting. Then, you need to train your employees. A program like The Fleet Safety Course covers this topic in detail and makes it easy to get this knowledge to all of your employees.
You might be thinking to yourself: this info is great, but how do I get it to my drivers?
The best way is to invest in cost-effective training options. We recommend an online training program like The Fleet Safety Course that teaches your drivers this information in an engaging way. This is the only way to guarantee a reduction in accidents, injuries, and cost of loss.
If investing in training isn’t an option, you can always resort to making PowerPoints, sending emails, playing YouTube videos, etc.
These options are free, but please note that they take a lot of time and energy. What’s worse, you might not achieve positive results.
However, you choose to tackle it, teaching proper body mechanics for lifting is an important part of reducing accidents for your drivers and employees. By preventing future workers’ comp claims and downtime for injured employees, any training investment pays for itself and then some.
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