Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

September 8, 2013

Labor & Industries’ “Lessons for Lifting and Moving Materials”

Many years ago I contacted the Department of Labor & Industries for their recommendations on bending and lifting. They sent me the booklet, Lessons for Lifting and Moving Materials. I remember noting that inside there was no mention of the knee rule, neutral spine or the hip hinge – and the concepts were not described by any other names.

That booklet was dated, March, 2000 so this year I repeated the process. I specifically asked for anything that they had, that they share with employers, on the subject of proper bending and lifting.

I did this in person, at the front counter of the local L&I office. They called up the responsible guy, a Safety and Health Consultant, who gave me the same booklet (I am going to review that a little deeper in a minute.) He also gave me another, smaller, booklet entitled, “Your Body, Your Job – Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders”, as well as a card directing me to the website “Ergonomics Ideas Bank” where you can “Make a withdrawal or deposit today!” Aside from the fact that I asked for bending and lifting, back injury, stuff and got Carpal Tunnel stuff, I want to point out what is becoming a trend: they want you to “Deposit and share your ideas”.

One of our new patients last week mentioned that (1) there are so many employees who have back pain and are seeing doctors of one kind or another (she mentioned chiropractors) that (2) they, the employer, had someone – an expert no doubt – come in to talk with them about it, and (3) that expert, among other things, asked the employees to tell them about bending and lifting technique. [Note: one of the largest employers in the community, this employer is also a Medical facility.]

When it comes to bending and lifting this business of the authorities (and other “teachers” who should know) asking the employees, who are at risk and suffering, how to is unacceptable. You either know how or you don’t. (And I am not talking here about getting feedback from the person closest to the job because they know their job – that’s just good sense. I am not talking about that.)

Back to the Lessons for Lifting booklet

What’s inside…

The #1 injury by percentage of claims was back injuries (59%), all the others were a tiny fraction of that. That was from 1992-1998 data. The prevalence of back injuries has gone up.

There is a nice anatomy illustration of the spine and discs.

There is a nice diagram illustrating the 20/20/400 effects of the low back as a fulcrum: hold 20 pounds out from your body 20 inches and the compressive forces on the lower lumbar disc is 400 pounds!! The take home message is to hold the load close to the body. New research makes it clear that those numbers are understated by quite a bit… so it’s that much more important to hold the load close to the body!!

There is lots of other stuff and some of it is good. There is a complex calculation at the end of the book for assessing the lifting hazard that no one will ever use. Meant to be used for handling anything over 10 pounds, I can’t imagine anyone spending the time.

What’s not in the booklet

Nowhere does the booklet actually come out and tell you how to bend and lift!

My point?

If you want to learn how to bend and lift or you want to make sure that your employees learn, you won’t learn it via that route.

There are a few places where you can learn to bend and lift properly. If you are an employer, you can learn how to measure your risk for employees injuring their backs. And you can learn to teach your employees how to bend and lift so that your company’s risk of experiencing more back injury claims goes down. By attending this course, Preventing Back Injuries Through Proper Mechanics, you or your safety representative can learn all of that. Register here.

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5 Comments »

  1. […] mechanics; As it relates to Tai chi, which we hammer on constantly; And as it relates to the Department of Labor & Industries in WA, which doesn’t think that it’s […]

    Pingback by When Is It Ok To Break The Neutral Spine Rule? | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — February 5, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

  2. […] held way out away from the body – even though holding it close is a written recommendation (always part of the teaching – the physics is an impressive part of every presentation – it’s important, but […]

    Pingback by May Is Posture Month: Saving The Best For Last | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — May 16, 2016 @ 10:16 am

  3. […] held way out away from the body – even though holding it close is a written recommendation (always part of the teaching – the physics is an impressive part of every presentation – it’s important, but […]

    Pingback by May Is Posture Month: Saving The Best For Last | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — May 16, 2016 @ 10:16 am

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    Comment by Joe Ponsler — July 23, 2016 @ 4:51 am

  5. […] Two things are interesting to me about the article: what is right in plain sight, but missed entirely due to mindset; and how, still, the recommendations regarding how to bend and lift are erroneous – harmful even. […]

    Pingback by Consumer Reports: Real Relief from Back Pain | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — May 10, 2017 @ 11:21 am


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