Backsafe 7 Don’ts – New secrets to correct manual handling

The Backsafe 4 Don’ts have now morphed into the Backsafe 7 Don’ts.  After careful consideration of the Manual Handling Code of Practice, we thought we would update our information to address more requirements for best practice manual handling.

Our goal is to help all people reduce the risk of creating a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) at work and at home. Following our new 7 Backsafe Rules will help you reduce your risk of injury by up to 80%.  

Don’t Bend Forward 

The spine is designed to work most efficiently straight up and down while maintaining the given natural curves of the body. When manual handling a load it is important to use your spine as an upright column. It is vital that a working person does not bend forward more than 20 degrees and at no time should one use the spinal column as a lever.

When keeping your spine upright while manual handling gravity and the weight of the body, plus the weight of the tools or the load being lifted, is transferred evenly and predictably through the spinal column, hips and legs to the ground. Most people however bend too far forward under load when manual handling using their spinal column incorrectly. 

Don’t Bend Backward 

Bending or leaning backward more than 5 degrees puts pressure at the base of the spinal

column and over time will create a Musculo-skeletal Disorder (MSD). The spine is bent

away from natural curves of the body when bent backward. When manually handling a box on a top shelf for example, it is important to use your spine in an upright posture like the column of a building, never changing the 4 natural curves of the spine. Most people bend too far backward when working high thus using their spinal column incorrectly. When working in backward bent postures discs will crack and tear over time causing permanent MSD damage, and sometimes causing a rupture or herniation of the discs.

Don’t Twist 

Twisting to the right or left more than the recommended 20 degrees will put tension or a grinding sideways movement into the lower back discs. The lower backbone structure is not designed to move past this recommended radius of 20 degrees left or right. It is therefore hazardous to your health to twist.   

When we twist the lower back, we also twist the discs in that area. When the discs are twisted the fibrous bands of the disc on one side will slacken to allow for the twisting action, however on the other side the fibrous bands will tighten up. This increases pressure in the disc which may lead to an instantaneous rupture of the disc.

Don’t Twist and Bend forward 

Twisting to the right or left more than 20 degrees (that is a sideways movement without moving your feet) when also bending forward more than 20 degrees will not only “torsion” (that is the twisting of an object due to torque) but also create a bending motion. It is a sort of grinding or sideways twisting movement with a bend all fixed and focused into the lower back vertebrae, ligaments, tendons and discs. The lower back structure is not designed to move past 20 degrees right or left or past 20 degrees bent forwards. 

This double-movement sideways and forward, multiplies the tension in the lower back and could be instantly dangerous to the operator’s wellbeing. Intervertebral disc damage and soft tissue damage will result from this dangerous habit over time, leading to the rapid creation of Musculo-skeletal Disorders.

Don’t Tilt 

Tilting of the upper body to the side in a downward movement more than 20 degrees is

similar to the torsion effect of a twist and will also cause damage to the intervertebral discs in the lower back by loading up one side of the structure and stretching the opposite side. The pressure created by a tilt, particularly in an already damaged lower back, can result in an instant herniation or bulging of the intervertebral disc as well as associated soft tissue damage.

Don’t Reach 

When you reach out with a load, pressure will focus into your shoulders and upper back between the shoulder blades and can transfer down to the lower back. Extending a load 60cm away from your body increases the pressure up to three times the weight of the load. For example, holding a 10kg load 60cm away from you will exert approximately 30kg of pressure through your body. These pressures can eventually cause damage to the shoulder joint which is being used as a pivot point in such a lift. Mid and or lower back problems may also result.

Don’t Jump

Jumping in the workplace exerts a shock wave or vibration of pressure between 7 and 10 times your total body weight plus any load you may be carrying. This pressure starts in your feet and travels through your ankles, knees and spine when you land.

Jumping on the job damages the joints of the body wearing away the series of cartilage positioned throughout your body that act as shock absorbers. The pressure on the spine can also result in major damage to the spinal discs. Jumping creates a shock in the body much like the shock that a fast bowler suffers when he slams his front foot down whilst playing cricket.

These are our 7 Backsafe Secrets to correct manual handling.

Don’t Bend Forward, Don’t Bend Backward, Don’t Twist, Don’t Twist and Bend Forward, Don’t Tilt, Don’t Reach and Don’t Jump

This will help decrease the risk of suffering musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.

For more information about the Backsafe Manual Handling onsite company training please call Peter Broadbent on 1300 022 257.  Or call us to get a copy of the Backsafe 7 Don’ts Poster.

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