Arizona workers frequently perform tasks that put them at risk for manual material handling injuries. These injuries may cause pain, lost wages and sometimes permanent disability. Although industrial and construction workplaces report the highest number of injuries, most jobs require manual handling, so many workers are at risk.

An injury could come from a single event or accumulate over time. Lower back and shoulder injuries are among the most common. Knowing some of the areas of risk may help prevent these workplace incidents.

Lifting or carrying

Moving heavy or awkward loads is a common cause of nonimpact injuries. Workers should use proper lifting techniques and keep the load close to the body. Avoid lifting from the floor. Handles may make a load easier to grasp. Unbalanced or unstable loads could cause significant back muscle strain.

Bending or reaching

Bending over or twisting to pick up or manage an object may cause soft tissue and other injuries. Workers should avoid reaching out to handle materials. Awkward body positions increase the risk of injury.

Holding fixed positions or performing repetitive motions

Forcing the body to hold a fixed position for extended periods may cause muscle strain or tears. Repetitive motions could make the back and other muscles even more vulnerable to manual material handling injuries. Chronic and disabling conditions may occur due to this type of overexertion.

Ergonomics adjusts the work to fit the worker, eliminating dangerous or wasted movements. Reorganizing a work area or station may reduce the risk of injury. Inexpensive upgrades in equipment could make the workplace more efficient and safer. Workers who suffer a manual material handling injury should report it to their employer and see a doctor without delay.