It doesn’t matter if you are only occasionally required to lift a heavy object or if lifting is a routine part of the job. It’s very important to understand the risks associated with lifting on the job and to take steps to prevent injury. 

NIOSH Lifting Formula 

mover with knee lifting injuriesYes, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has actually created a formula to determine how much the average worker can safely lift. The formula takes the following into account: 

  1. How far out in front of the body a load will be held. 
  2. The height of the load must be shifted to and from. 
  3. The height of the object being lifted. 
  4. The amount of expected torso twisting. 
  5. How often the lifting will occur. 

Using this formula, NOISH has determined that is a perfect scenario, a worker should be able to safely lift 51 pounds without significant injury. That being said, the reality is that the average employee is almost never in the perfect situation. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), overexertion from lifting is a leading cause of back and shoulder injuries, injuries that account for more than 35% of all missed time from work. This is why it’s so important for employers to not only teach employees proper lifting techniques but to also provide tools to help them lift. 

Proper Techniques For Lifting 

When lifting any object, consider the following: 

  1. Plan the lift. Know what you will be lifting, test the weight, and know where the object is being moved to and from. 
  2. Use any available handholds. 
  3. Use the power zone to lift. Bend at the knees and not the waist. 

Whenever possible take breaks, rotate tasks, and use tools and machinery to help move heavy objects. Otherwise, it’s likely just a matter of time before an injury occurs. 

The Most Common Lifting Injuries 

Here are just a few of the most common injuries that can occur while lifting any heavy object: 

Herniated Disc 

Also known as a bulged, ruptured, or slipped disc, this injury occurs most frequently in the low back. The disc is the part of the spine that provides cushioning between vertebrae. When a portion of the disc is pushed into the spinal canal, this is referred to as a herniation. 

Symptoms can include tingling, burning, numbness, or pain that feels like an electric shock. The pain can radiate into other parts of the body. 

While there are non-surgical options many patients require surgery to stop the pain. 

IT Band Syndrome 

When a patient is diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome they experience pain from the hip bone to the knee. Although surgery isn’t often an option, it can take a lot of time and physical therapy to find relief from the pain. 

Rotator Cuff or SLAP Tears

The rotator cuffs and Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior are located in the shoulder. A tear can result in pain that prevents a patient from lifting their arm higher than their shoulder and may limit the range of motion. Surgery is usually required depending on the severity of the tear. 

Tennis Elbow 

In most cases, tennis elbow is caused by chronic over gripping and can cause pain in the elbow and forearm. 

Patellar Tendonitis 

The patellar kneecap sits just below the patella and can cause chronic pain in the knee. Physical therapy, medication, and even surgery may be required. 

You May Want To Consult An Attorney After Being Diagnosed With A Lifting Injury 

If you were injured while lifting at work, it may be time to read about how to choose the best workers’ compensation lawyer.  Even the smallest mistake on a claim form can result in a denial, which is why it’s important to reach out for legal assistance as quickly as possible.