I got the idea to do this series of Blog Posts on Posture out of a promotional package that included a bunch of posters. My Posts have been comments taken from and related to what is on those posters. Included was a poster labeled ‘Bending & Lifting’.
Wherever 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 things: first, in the text, the most import things are not even mentioned; and second, the images almost alway demonstrate how not to bend and lift. The posters are not all bad: they often have great information on them – good facts, reasonable recommendations, and nice graphics. But they have failed to produce a population that can safety bend over and pick something up. Everywhere you look you see people doing it poorly and I have commented on that here regularly for, now, five years. (You could search ‘back injury prevention’ or ‘bending & lifting’ for some of the Posts I have written on the subject, but start with How To Bend & Lift.)
So what about the ‘Bending & Lifting’ poster that prompted this Post?
First off, it starts with an important fact that is behind why all of this matters so very much: 80% of workplace injuries are to the lower back!
First The Words On The Poster
It says to ‘Be Aware’ and ‘Use Your Core’ so we are off to a great start. And it gives many good tips: align head over shoulders, get a good grip, try to keep your back straight, avoid hunching, engage the core, carry close to your center, lift with leg power, bend your knees, plant your feet shoulder width apart, and shoes make a big difference. That’s all fine. But it doesn’t teach. It doesn’t actually teach what to do. It gets worse.
Now The Poster’s Graphic
The visual illustration is what will always stick with us. It’s the picture that is worth a thousand words, right? Well, this poster’s graphic is much like all the rest that I have seen. There are three primary elements to properly bending over safely (detailed in the How To Bend & Lift Post link that I gave you up above). The graphic on this poster violates all three! And, the weight is 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 it won’t get you there, unfortunately).
Here is the worst part of the poster and the main reason I put so much effort into talking about it (remember, right now, all over this country, health care providers are promoting Posture improvement, including bending and lifting using this poster). One of the last things it says is, ‘Practice bending and lifting to train new habits.’ Why is it important? Because practice you will – all day every day practice what you do. Do it well and you get one set of results; do it poorly and you will get another, very different, set of results.
And… the Posture Beads that they recommend on the poster won’t help you!
If you want to prevent back injury by managing this risk factor, or learn how you can measure your employees risk of back injury, give our office a call at (425) 348-5207.