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Manual material handling and back injuries

Lifting objects or manually handling materials puts workers at risk for back injuries. More than 111,000 such injuries requiring days away from work were recorded in 2017, according to Injury Facts, an online database created by the National Safety Council. What can employers and workers do to prevent them?

Risk prevention

“When efforts to prevent injuries from [manual material handling] focus on only one risk factor, they do not significantly reduce the injury rate,” the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety states. “A more successful approach combines knowledge of ergonomics, engineering, the work environment, and human capabilities and limitations.”

CCOHS recommends eliminating or decreasing demand for heavy manual material handling tasks, reducing stressful body movements and the pace of work, increasing rest breaks, and improving environmental conditions.

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