Make the Right Moves to Minimize Injury Risks
Your bovine veterinary practice probably doesn’t allow you to adapt working conditions with ergonomic interventions very often. That’s why body mechanics are so important to prevent injury.
Here are six considerations and techniques to address the stress work tasks often inflict your body.
1. Move as close as reasonably possible to your work surface or activity to minimize reaching while performing tasks. That can help decrease stress on your arms, upper extremities and spine.
2. Prior to performing lifting and carrying tasks, make sure that both the weight and size are appropriate. Sure, that’s common sense, but being in a hurry can cause all of us to ignore this step. If you are unsure of the weight, consider opening the container to examine the contents or pushing the container to estimate its weight. When in doubt about your ability to handle an object safely and independently, get help or separate the task into multiple lifts.
3. Maintain your spinal posture to minimize injury risk. To reach an object down low that you intend to lift, bend at your knees and hips instead of your spine. Tightening your core muscles, by pulling your navel up and in, helps support your spine and decrease the risk of injury.
4. Always lift and carry objects as close to your body as possible to minimize stress on your shoulders and back. Lifting or carrying at arm’s length can increase the stress on your spine by as much as 10 times, compared to performing the task against your body. Heavier and more repetitive tasks should be placed between thigh and chest height, if possible.
5. Look down as you grasp an object you intend to handle. However, don’t make the mistake of continuing to look down while lifting. After securing your grip on the load, bring your head up to a level position and look straight ahead prior to lifting. It is also important to breathe out while lifting. This can prevent an abrupt blood pressure elevation and potential heart stress.
6. Beware turning while holding a heavy object. It’s often done incorrectly by twisting the spine. This causes sheer forces on the intervertebral disc which can increase the risk of a back injury. Repetitive sheer forces gradually break down the annulus fibrosis portion of the disc and eventually will result in herniation of the nucleus pulposus. Spinal curves can be maintained and rotation can be avoided by taking steps instead of twisting.