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14 Tips for Protecting Your Back in the Backyard

April 30, 2010

As cool weather departs and summer returns to Arizona, homeowners kick into high gear planting, trimming and focusing on summer gardening.

Gardening regularly calls for moving heavy items, including trees, shrubs, bags of mulch and maintenance equipment. While working in your garden there are often times you have to work in a hunched position as you dig, rake, weed, hoe and perform the many gardening tasks.

Proper lifting techniques and avoiding mistakes before and after a lift can help reduce or prevent back injuries.

“Lifting is an action that affects virtually every industry to some degree,” said Claudia Baker, Loss Control Manager at SCF Arizona. “A critical piece of the lifting action that can easily be overlooked is the planning of the lift,” she continued. “Injuries can be avoided by assessing what is to be lifted, by whom and to where the lifted item is being carried. By considering these things before the lift is performed, you can minimize or eliminate unnecessary exposure to injuries.”

Baker offers these tips.

Lifting Dos:

  • Size up the load to determine if you will need help. Slide loads when possible.
  • Wear sturdy boots or shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Get a firm footing, then part your feet and place one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Keep the load close to your body and directly in front of you.
  • Keep your back as straight as possible. Bend your knees and lift with your legs.
  • Grip the object well. Use handles, when possible, and make sure gloves fit properly.
  • Avoid lifting loads higher than chest level.
  • Lift in a smooth, controlled manner. Don’t jerk the load or twist your body.

Lifting Don’ts:

  • Curving the back forward while grabbing the object, then lifting by straightening the back
  • Keeping the legs straight and bending at the hips to lift the item
  • Twisting the back while lifting, holding or carrying the item
  • Holding the object away from the body
  • Lifting a heavy object above shoulder level
  • Lifting an object that is too heavy

For a brochure on proper lifting techniques, go to SCF Arizona’s website, scfaz.com, or call 602.631.2809.

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