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Workplace heavy lifting injury causes and prevention

Pennsylvania workers may be interested in some information about on-the-job injuries due to lifting heavy objects. Some safety advice can help to prevent these injuries and allow the employee to be productive and continue working.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, heavy lifting is one of the most common ways that employees suffer an on-the-job injury. Often a shoulder or back injury results from these heavy lifting accidents, causing what some statistics show are over one-third of the total days missed at the workplace.

OSHA says that many of these injuries can be prevented by using safe techniques for lifting and moving heavy objects. Generally, it is a weight of 50 pounds or more that makes a worker more susceptible to a lifting injury. When doing so, the government recommends using a mechanical device, such as a forklift, to assist in the lift or to make use of the "power zone." This is the area between the middle of a person's thigh and the middle of their chest. Heavy items that must be moved often should be stored in this power zone height to minimize the need to bend or reach for them. When carrying these heavy items, the item should be held close to the body, twisting should be kept to a minimum and turns should be made using the feet rather than the waist.

When a worker is injured on the job, whether due to unsafe conditions or a workplace accident, they may have a claim for workers' compensation. The benefits could cover a portion of the pay lost from time off of work due to the injury as well as medical costs. There may also be short or long-term disability payments if the injured employee is unable to return to work.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Materials Handling: Heavy Lifting", December 01, 2014

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