In the course of performing their job duties, many workers in North Carolina and elsewhere may lift objects or carry items from one place to another. Unfortunately, however, this may put them at risk for suffering serious back injuries on the job. Work-related musculoskeletal injuries involving the back may result from heavy loads, awkward lifting or carrying postures, uneven load weight distributions and other factors.

Due to overexertion, sudden jolts or other such factors, workers may suffer a variety of back injuries, which may range in severity from minor to serious. Some of the most common on-the-job back trauma includes fractured vertebrae, herniated disks, and strains and sprains. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38.5% of all work-related musculoskeletal injuries in 2016 involved the back. As a result of such injuries, many workers require time off work, in addition to medical care and rehabilitation.

According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, using smart lifting techniques can help workers in all industries prevent back injuries. This includes making a plan prior to lifting or carrying a load. Workers should consider the weight of their load and whether it is awkward to carry, whether mechanical means might make the job easier and safer, if another person should help or whether the load can be broken down into smaller pieces.

When attempting to lift a load, it is important to use a smooth motion and avoid jerking. Before picking up a load, workers should get as close as possible and try to keep their arms and elbows tucked close to their bodies. Keeping their backs straight and stomachs tight during the lift and ensuring the load is centered can also help workers avoid suffering occupational back injuries.

While carrying loads, workers should take care not to twist or turn their bodies. Rather, keeping their hips, knees, toes and shoulders facing the same direction may help them prevent some strains or sprains. Just as when they pick objects up, employees should carry their loads as close to their bodies as possible and keep them close as they go to set them down.