October 2, 2018

Identifying Unsafe Lifting at Your Worksite

In past issues, we’ve shared tips on safe lifting. But how can you identify which tasks are unsafe at your workplace? And are there resources that can help make your organization’s employees more mindful of these lifting hazards?

 

Identifying unsafe lifting tasks
Step one is to identify which tasks are causing injuries. Step two is to investigate why these injuries are occurring.

Review records for trends — Review your workers’ compensation claims for at least the past three years to identify injuries caused by manual material handling. Scour past near-miss worker reports or complaints, or conduct a symptoms survey so workers can identify ongoing musculoskeletal discomfort related to specific tasks. Request guidance from your Pinnacol safety consultant, too.

Observe work activities — Conduct regular walkabouts to observe employees’ behavior and use of equipment. Here are some things to watch for: lifting while bending and reaching with the arms fully extended; lifting while bending and twisting; repetitive lifting from the floor or above shoulder height; lifting large or unwieldy objects; and workers who appear fatigued, perspire heavily or rush to keep pace with lifting requirements (e.g., loading a pallet with materials from a conveyor line).

Use assessment tools — A checklist or assessment tool documents what you’re observing and helps identify the most critical risk factors for injury; therefore, it supports thorough follow-up to eliminate lifting hazards or take other corrective actions. Be aware, though, that generic checklists may not uncover all lifting hazards, and you may need to tailor a checklist to your specific workplace.

Most important, talk to your workers — Get their thoughts on safe-lifting challenges they experience. What works, in their opinion? What doesn’t? Can they suggest alternatives to manual handling (e.g., tools or equipment)?

 

Pinnacol and other resources for worker awareness
For lifting procedures and a worksite poster, visit the lifting and ergonomics webpage at Pinnacol.com. Also available from Pinnacol’s website are two simple checklists for manual material handling inspection and pushing/pulling inspection. Additionally, Pinnacol’s site posts a publication that helps raise worker awareness: “Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling.”

Other helpful resources include OSHA’s ergonomics webpage and a calculator for analyzing lifting operations from Oregon OSHA, which can be used on mobile devices. An online tool from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation enables users to evaluate specific lifting tasks. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also has a mobile app that analyzes lifting tasks to determine recommended weight limits. And the Center for Construction Research and Training offers mobile apps that can help workers identify unsafe lifting conditions.

 

We invite you to contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services team is available to help identify unsafe lifting hazards at your organization’s workplace.

Pinnacol Pointers: Improve Ergonomics to Reduce Worker Strain Injuries

August 1, 2017

Did you realize that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSD cases accounted for 31 percent of all worker injury and illness cases in 2015.

MSDs comes into play whenever soft-tissue strain results from improper or repetitive body movements, as well as lack of motion.

 

What to Do

Working over long periods of time in awkward postures without taking breaks can greatly increase your employees’ risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Proper workstation setup and layout, good fit with a quality task chair and posture changes throughout the day are the most effective ways to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Reorganizing work so employees can stand and walk every 30 to 45 minutes, for example, is a no-cost approach to reduce the effects of sitting in a static posture.

 

What Not to Do

Look for these common awkward postures at your employees’ workstations and inform workers of these risk factors for injury:

  • Working in a seated, static position for more than 30 minutes without standing or walking.
  • Sitting so far forward in a chair that the back is unsupported or, worse, slouching forward over the keyboard.
  • Working with elbows extended in front of the body, which creates muscle tension in the upper back.
  • Cradling the phone for long periods while performing keyboard/mouse work.
  • Entering data from a document that is face down on the desk, requiring awkward neck flexion or twisting.
  • Placing contact stress on soft tissues, such as resting wrists on a hard, sharp desktop edge while using a computer mouse.

 

Pinnacol Resources

Pinnacol is here to educate policyholders and improve the ergonomic setup and layout of your computer workstations. Visit the Knowledge Center on Pinnacol’s website to view our interactive office ergonomics video. A host of additional downloads – FAQs; guidelines for choosing an ergonomic chair and workstation setup, a stretching and warm-up exercise handout, and equipment procurement and use checklists – can help prevent musculoskeletal strains and injuries to your workers. You can order a computer DVD copy of the interactive video program from Pinnacol’s Order Materials webpage under the DVD Training & Resources section. Your organization can make copies of the DVD and distribute them to employees or even copy the files to your organization’s intranet.

Pinnacol partners with Office Relief, an ergonomic chairs and accessories supplier with discounted prices for Pinnacol customers. Office Relief offers one-stop shopping for purchasing high-quality task chairs, sit/stand workstations, keyboards, mice and various other desk accessories to improve the ergonomic setup of the workstation. Contact Office Relief’s Jeff Bellamy at (720) 232.5637 or jbellamy@officerelief.com. Identify yourself as a Pinnacol customer to receive a product catalog with Pinnacol’s preferred pricing. Bellamy provides onsite services, as well, such as free chair demos.

You can also contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call online or at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services team is committed to helping you keep your organization’s employees healthy, productive and injury-free.