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Proper Lifting Techniques for Fleet Drivers

proper-lifting-techniques-for-fleet-drivers

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 life-long back injuries. That means workers’ comp claims for you and losing a team member indefinitely. Beyond that, as an owner or manager of a light-duty fleet of vehicles, you value the safety and well-being of your drivers. You want to do what you can to protect them.

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.

How Improper Lifting Causes Injuries

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 a 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:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle/ligament tears

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 Steps to 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 several steps to safely lifting an object, but first, we need to cover the two most important pointers:

  • Bend at the knees, not the waist. Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Stay square with the object. Do not twist at the waist while lifting or carrying.

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.

  • Survey the scene. Do you have a clear path once you lift the object? Ensure nothing is in your way while you carry it.
  • How heavy is the object? Regardless of your strength, you should not try to lift something that is 50 pounds or more by yourself. Your risk of an injury sky-rockets when objects are that heavy. It’s best to get someone to help you.
  • Prepare to lift the object. Square yourself with what you’re going to lift. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Stand close to the object.
  • Bend at the knees. Avoid bending at the waist. Bend at your knees to get down to the object.
  • Get a firm grip on the object.
  • Tighten your core muscles.
  • Lift with your legs. Again, never lift with your back. That’s how injuries happen. Keep the object close to you while you lift it.
  • Turn and carry it. Even if you are just placing the object directly behind you, turn around and stay square with it. Do not twist your back.

Follow proper body mechanics for setting it down. Setting something down is just picking it up in reverse. Bend at the knees and stay square with it while you set the object down. The risk for injury is the same.

Here are a few more tips as an added bonus:

  • Push/pull heavy objects when possible.
  • Before starting a shift, warm-up by using proper stretching.
  • Get regular exercise. Staying in shape is a key component of preventing back injuries. Even just a daily walk can go a long way to strengthening your muscles.
  • Proper body mechanics doesn’t stop at lifting. To prevent an injury, your drivers and employees shouldn’t bend at the waist at all. That goes for picking up a dropped pencil or tying a shoe just as much as picking up a weed whacker or a heavy box.

Make Proper Body Mechanics a Norm For Your Drivers

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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