Back Safety Overview

Learning objectives

  • Recognize how practicing good posture, improving your work area conditions and working ergonomically will protect and strengthen your back.
  • Identify how a healthy lifestyle, and improving your strength and flexibility, can protect you from work-related back injuries.
  • Describe specific actions you can take to prevent work-related back injuries when moving or lifting materials.

Course overview

“Low back pain is the #2 reason that Americans see their doctor—second only to colds and flus.” U.S. National Library of Medicine

Common Factors That May Increase Your Risk of Back Injury

The Natural Aging Process

As we age, the discs between the vertebrae in our backs wear away and shrink. The bones eventually start to rub against each other, which causes pain and stiffness. In addition, the space around our spinal cord narrows over time, putting pressure on the cord and spinal nerves, and causing pain.

Forceful Exertion

Forceful exertion involves the amount of physical effort expended to overcome the weight, resistance, or inertia of the body or a work object. Activities that require forceful exertion include carrying a heavy box from a delivery truck to a storage room or operating a handcart full of heavy materials.

Awkward Postures

An awkward posture is a body position that involves bending, twisting, or reaching. Working in an awkward posture compresses tendons, nerves, and blood vessels, and increases the force a worker must apply to complete a task. Activities that involve awkward postures include reaching up to run wiring to an overhead light fixture or kneeling and bending to install carpet.

  • 5 Minutes
  • English
  • Back Injury Prevention Training Guide, OSHA, 2009
  • Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs), Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, January 2014
  • The 5 Top Stretches to Minimize Back Pain, Athletico Physical Therapy, March 2012
  • Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Materials Handling, Cal/OSHA, 2007
  • Ten Ways to Keep a Healthy Back, American Council on Exercise, May 2005
  • Ergonomics eTool, Solutions for Electrical Contractors, 7/2003
  • Lifting and Materials Handling, University of North Carolina, Department of Environment, Health and Safety, 1999
  • Top-10-Most-Common-Workplace-Injuries, Arbill, 2017
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