Lifting aids and engineering solutions can help workers minimize the amount of weight they have to carry, but the biggest cause of back injuries isn’t carrying too much—it’s using a poor technique. Almost everyone knows they should bend at the knees and decrease load weights. But there’s more. Many safety programs today include rigorous training on the tenets of safe lifting.
Unfortunately, good intentions often go out the window when workers are given the wrong incentive. In cases like this, people are more likely to forget proper lifting instructions and fall back into bad habits like lifting with their back, improperly handling awkward loads, and trying to carry too much. The problem isn’t workers knowing the proper technique—it’s actually a disconnect between the goals of the business and the goals of the employee.
For example, very often a company will provide ample education on proper body mechanics, yet, at the same time, they will pay their employees based on their level of productivity (how many engines they build), leaving out the incentive (increased pay) for safe lifting behavior.
So, next time you are wondering why your employees are still using poor lifting techniques, check to see if the incentives the company is providing reinforce and align with the overall goals of the business.
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