Company Name __________________________ Job Name __________________________ Date________
SAVE YOUR BACK WHEN WORKING
IN AWKWARD POSITIONS
We have all been told to avoid back injury by bending our
knees when we lift, keeping the load close and avoiding twisting motions. These
safety rules may be appropriate for simple, direct lifting of materials, but
what about back care when you are working in awkward positions? Work tasks that
require you to reach or stretch away from your body while handling materials can
also put excessive strain on the vertebral discs and soft tissues in the back.
An awkward position is a work posture that distorts the spine from its natural
curves, puts unbalanced pressure on the discs, and can strain arm, leg or back
tissues if held for any length of time.
What are some work situations that may put you in
- Jobs that require you to bend and reach into bins or
containers to retrieve or place material.
- Overhead work, installing or servicing equipment, pulling
wire, cleaning ceilings, etc.
- Floor or ground level jobs such as installing or servicing
equipment, cleaning, etc.
- Work tasks in confined or small spaces where there is limited
range of motion such as boilers, hatches, pipes, tanks, vaults, crawl spaces,
- Jobs on ladders, work platforms or scaffolding where you may
over-reach to adjust, clean, install or service.
- Pulling loads, instead of pushing them, when removing
equipment or other materials.
- Repetitive tasks that require twisting of the back such as
loading or handling material 90o to 180o from the starting
How can you avoid injury when working in awkward positions?
What specific awkward positions do you face in
How can you "work smarter instead of harder"
to prevent injuries?
- Raise bins and containers off the floor and/or tilt them to
reduce bending and over-reaching.
- When working overhead, stand on a steady and adjustable
platform. Keep your back posture in its natural curve to avoid uneven spinal
- If working on the floor, avoid bending over to work. Squat
down using your leg muscles and wear cushioned knee pads if you have to kneel at
- In confined spaces, plan your work, and reduce clutter in the
area which confines you further and increases the need to twist or overreach.
Also arrange for adequate illumination.
- Don't hold an awkward position for too long. Pause often to
stretch and straighten out.
- When leaning forward to work, support the weight of your
upper body on your free hand and arm, whenever possible. This greatly relieves
pressure on your lower back.
- Position yourself as close as possible to the job, avoid
overreaching and/or use tools with longer handles when working on ladders or
- Never lift heavy loads that are far from your body's center
of gravity. Get help in such cases.
- Position your work below the shoulder and above the knees to
- Push, rather than pull, loads to help maintain the spine's
- Remember that a back support belt may remind you to lift
correctly, but it will not protect your spine if you overreach or twist with a
Job Specific Topics:_______________________________________________________________________________________