Back injuries represent the largest single contributor to injury cost and insurance claims for most occupational environments. Back-injury prevention programs generally include administrative controls and/or engineering controls. Relying solely on administrative controls, such as training, to reduce costs has not proven successful. And, while engineering controls can be successful, they are most effective when coupled with administrative concepts. Listed below are some examples of management actions, administrative controls, and industrial engineering concepts that, when properly applied, will help to reduce the risk of back injuries.

Management Actions

Identify the jobs and tasks that result in back injuries.

Modify or eliminate the task(s) causing back injuries.

Rotate personnel in and out of the jobs that cause back injuries.

Decrease the weight of objects being carried.

Provide nonskid footwear to workers.

Provide adequate lighting, work temperature, noise control, and good housekeeping.

Provide carts, hand trucks, utility vehicles, and wheelbarrows with large wheels.

Provide scissor lifts and spring lift tables.

Mark containers with the weight of the contents.

Provide handles on bags, boxes, and containers.

Industrial Work Concepts to Reduce Back Injuries

Minimize body movements by reducing bending, twisting, and reaching motions.

Decrease the forces on the body by reducing the weight of the object and the forces due to moments (load x distance) or the distance between the load and the body.

Decrease carrying forces by eliminating the need to carry or by converting to push or pull actions.

Minimize the push or pull force needed to move an object or reduce the distance that has to be covered.

Reduce the weight of the object and/or reduce the traveling distance the object is carried.

Workstation Design Actions

Fit the workstation to the worker (ergonomics).

Design workstations to accommodate the worker in both the sitting and standing positions.

Locate tools, materials, and controls close to the point of use.

Provide gravity feed bins and containers to deliver materials close to the point of use.

Equip workstations with mats to cushion floors and provide a nonskid surface.

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