Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Further, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars on top of the pain and suffering borne by employees.
Even though lifting, placing, carrying, holding, and lowering are all involved in manual material handling (the principal cause of compensable work injuries), the BLS survey shows that four out of five of these injuries were to the lower back, and that three out of four occurred while the employee was lifting.
Although no approach has been found for completely eliminating back injuries resulting from lifting materials, a substantial number of lifting injuries can be prevented by implementing an effective ergonomics program and by training employees in appropriate lifting techniques.