Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

December 22, 2014

Another “How Not To Bend Over” Photo, This Time From The WSDOT


I suppose WSDOT stands for Washington State Department of Transportation, but it doesn’t matter. I found the photo on the website of a large organization dedicated to safety. This employee is all decked out with safety vest, chaps, safety boots (with steel toes no doubt), a helmet, eye protection, gloves and long sleeves, so he’s good to go right?

NO! He doesn’t know how to bend over. He is both flexed in the lumbar spine and slightly twisted. Worse he is doing a job that will require him to hold that position for what looks like a relatively long time.

He is a perfect poster child for low back injuries. Assuming that that posture is the norm for him (and why wouldn’t it be?), his back injury future is as predictable as rain in Seattle. It’s just a matter of when.

He is not a firefighter, the subject of a Study that I mentioned the other day concluding that weak backs get injured and that a worksite exercise program could strengthen those very same weak backs. But it doesn’t really matter what job we talk about.

Last week I watched two roofers put a roof on the neighbors building. Same. The week before I took a First Aid & CPR/AED Course from someone who demonstrated the same poor lifting and bending techniques.

So a weak back getting injured, especially in a firefighter is kind of a no-brainer. And it’s understandable that employers wouldn’t want to take responsibility for their employee’s strength training (lots of reasons for that and a meaningful conversation could be had). But here’s the deal, employees are going to have to bend and lift no matter what: weak or strong, right or wrong. Why not at least teach them proper technique?

Employers have a lot going on. Minimal compliance with State and Federal regulations is already a pain. All those Safety meetings taking up time; all those videos that have to be shown that talk about back injuries. Why would they do more, in addition?

Well, here’s why. The Safety meetings and the videos are not producing the results. The incidence of back injury just keeps going up; the costs continue to climb. It is more common than any other injury, more expensive, and more disabling. THE COST OF NOT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT IS UNTENABLE!

Here is another reason: It’s easy to teach someone how to bend and lift properly if you know how yourself.

And another reason: Once someone FEELS the difference and can perform proper bending and lifting, they will not go back to doing it wrong because they feel weak and know that it is risky. People will gladly comply.

And another reason: Every single time an employee bends over wrong and lift incorrectly, they are head toward their next (or first) back pain injury; every single time they do it correctly they are strengthening the movement pattern of safe bending and lifting and protecting themselves against back injury.

And another reason: Since more and more employers are offering “stretch & flex” classes first thing in the morning anyway, they could be focusing a little attention on this subject, both in terms of proper movement patterns and in terms of strengthening – if they wanted to. Many already think that they are, but the evidence does not support that.

Why would an employer even hire someone who couldn’t demonstrate proper bending and lifting technique for a job that is going to require that movement? Why wouldn’t an employer measure that in their employees and track it as a measure of their own risk? And once measured, why wouldn’t an employer want to do something to shift the degree of risk in the direction of safer, less risky? Many employers must thing that they are already doing all of this. I think they could do better.



  1. […] Improper bending and lifting technique among employees increases the risk of injuries and related costs (including time lost […]

    Pingback by Reducing Low Back Injury Risk – Measuring Success in Prevention Programs | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — June 3, 2015 @ 9:15 am

  2. […] I go, when I see Posters promoting safe bending and lifting, or just safety, I look closely at them to see what is included and what is left out. So far I have noticed two […]

    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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