Depending on your job, lifting heavy objects may be part of your day-to-day work experience. Back, knee and shoulder injuries are among the most common types of injuries suffered by "blue collar" workers in America. Lifting injuries can happen to a young worker who makes a sudden twist in the wrong direction; or they can build up over time due to repetitive stress, no matter how good your technique is.
Since heavy lifting has the potential to cause serious injury, it's important to better understand what you should and shouldn't be doing. To start, let's examine some of the possible injuries associated with lifting a heavy object:
- Shifting vertebrae: When this happens, your back is no longer in proper alignment. Subsequently, the vertebrae may touch the spinal cord or local nerves, thus leading to pain and discomfort.
- Tearing and straining: There are muscles and ligaments running through your back and neck, all of which can be injured if you lift an object that is too heavy. A tear or strain, even a minor one, can make it difficult to live your normal life.
- Joint damage: Not only is this among the most painful types of injury, but it can also result in permanent damage if you don't receive immediate and proper medical attention.
Is there any way to avoid trouble?
If lifting is part of your job, you can't simply say you aren't going to do it any longer. Instead, you need to seek ways to avoid injury.
First off, make sure you understand the weight of the object before you attempt to lift it. If it's too heavy, ask for assistance. A team lift may be just what you need to get the job done without jeopardizing your health.
Proper lifting technique is a must. For example, lift with your legs as opposed to your back. Also, hold the object as close to your body as possible.
What to do about an injury
If you suffer a lifting injury at work, stop what you're doing to assess your situation. Don't try to fight through the pain to get the job done.
Once you receive a formal diagnosis, you'll better understand your injury and prognosis.
Depending on the severity, your doctor may suggest that you don't lift anything heavy for an extended period of time. You may also require treatment, such as surgery, to correct the problem.
If your injury will keep you out of work, think about filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits to help with your finances during this difficult time.