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Safety Update: Overexertion- Big Problem, Simple Solutions

Overexertion injuries can be caused by:

·         Trying to lift or carry too heavy a weight (one of the most common causes)

·         Straining to push or pull a load

·         Frequent bending, reaching, or stretching, which puts extra strain on muscles

·         Working in an awkward posture for long periods

·         Using excessive force when performing a task

Several factors contribute to the risk of overexertion injuries:

·         Employees are at greater risk of overexertion injuries if they are out of shape. Toned muscles and a flexible body decrease the risk of overexertion.

·         Being overweight also increases the risk of overexertion injuries. When a worker carries extra pounds, his or her body has to work harder and that can result in injuries.

·         Poor posture can also put extra stress on the body and result in overexertion and injury

·         Age is also a factor that contributes to overexertion injuries, and as a result older workers are at greater risk of overexerting and injuring themselves than younger ones.

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Overexertion may result in a variety of injuries, including back injuries and sprains and strains to other parts of the body including shoulders, neck, and joints.

Signs of overexertion injuries include:

·         Pain or stiffness in the back or neck

·         Pain, stiffness, or loss of mobility in the shoulders

·         Pain or numbness in the arms or legs

·         Pain, swelling, or stiffness in elbow or knee joints

·         Pain, swelling, or numbness in hands or wrists

Injuries caused by overexertion often take days or weeks to heal, and some can be disabling.

Safe Work Habits

Training employees in safe work habits can minimize the risk of overexertion. Emphasizing safe lifting and the importance of maintaining a neutral body posture while working are among the chief safe work habits to instill.

Train employees to lift safely by:

·         Keeping head straight and facing forward while you work

·         Maintaining the back’s natural curves, avoiding slouching

·         Keeping arms hanging comfortably at the side, shoulder’s not hunched, and elbows close to the sides

·         Keeping wrists in a straight line with forearms

·         Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and weight balanced

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Other safe work habits to prevent overexertion include:

·         Arranging work and workstation to minimize reaching, bending, twisting, and awkward postures

·         Taking minibreaks when performing strenuous tasks so that tense muscles can relax and have a chance to recover

·         Not lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling more than physical capabilities comfortably allow (getting help or use mechanical aids)

·         Paying attention to the body and seek prompt treatment for injuries caused by overexertion