Ergonomic Survival Guide for Laborers
This SURVIVAL GUIDE is designed to promote awareness of safe work practices for LABORERS.
To order this guide and other trade-specific publications, please call 1-800-963-9424 or download a pdf or html version from our Web site. www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/puborder.asp
What will happen to your family and your lifestyle if you get injured and can't work? What will you lose if you get injured?
- Your salary
- Your quality of life
- Your job advancement
- Future opportunities
What Can You Do to Avoid an Injury?
What Can Make You Hurt?
Most common injuries:
There are certain things in your job that can lead to fatigue, discomfort, or pain when you do them repeatedly or without breaks.
- Exerting force to perform a task or to use a tool.
- Working in positions such as bending, stooping, twisting, and overhead reaching.
- Using awkward back, hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder postures.
- Remaining in the same position for a long time with little or no movement.
- Continuous pressure from a hard surface or edge on any part of the body.
- Working in very hot or very cold temperatures produced by climate, equipment, or machines.
- Sitting on, standing on, or holding equipment or tools that vibrate.
In addition, stressful work situations can increase muscle tension and reduce awareness of proper work technique.
Prepare Yourself for Work
Just as a runner prepares for a race event by warming up, prepare for work by warming up and stretching. Warm up by walking, marching in place, or moving your arms in circles. Once your muscles are warm:
- Stretch S-L-O-W-L-Y and hold each stretch 3-5 seconds.
- Stretch a few minutes before and during your workday.
Caution: Check with your doctor before exercising. If you feel discomfort while exercising, stop immediately!
While you are off work, keep yourself physically ready for returning to work, whether it's the next day or later.
If you experience symptoms, you must change the way you work or the tools you use. If you don't change, your symptoms may get worse and may keep you from working at all.
You may have a problem if you have any of these symptoms:
- Constant fatigue
- Cold hands
- Lack of energy
- Changes in skin color
- Loss of sensation
- Aching, burning, or shooting pain
If you develop any symptoms:
- Talk with your foreman about your symptoms right away.
- Work with your foreman to identify the cause of the problem.
- Follow your company's ergonomics program and its Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
- Always look for better ways to do your job.
SAFE WORK PRACTICES
THE WRONG WAY
THE SAFER WAY
Twisting the body while lifting a shovel may injure the joints and muscles in your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and back. It may keep you from ever working again.
Here are ways to minimize twisting while shoveling:
Using a short handled tool puts direct pressure on the palm of your hand. Over time you may feel numbness and weakness in your hand when using a short-handled tool.
Working in an awkward posture, such as bending, for a long time, may tire you and strain your muscles, reducing your productivity throughout the day.
Make It Easy on Yourself
Use padding to protect yourself from hard, sharp edges that put pressure on your body. Wear eye protection, gloves, a hard hat, safety shoes, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary. Choose PPE that fits and is appropriate for the task.
PRACTICE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING.
Pick up debris and scrap material to prevent slips, trips and falls. Good housekeeping allows you to get closer to your work. Keep pathways clear for carts, wheelbarrows, and dollies.
Face your work directly to prevent twisting, reaching, or bending. This technique can increase your comfort level and improve your work accuracy and quality.
USE A MORE COMFORTABLE HANDLE.
When lifting a bucket, you will use less grip force if you increase the diameter of the handle by adding padding, or by using a handle that has a bigger diameter.
- Use teamwork and mechanical aids whenever possible.
General Lifting tips:
- Face the load.
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
- Bring the load close to your body.
- Breathe out and tighten your stomach as you lift.
3-point lifting tips:
- Use a 3-point lift when handling plank or sheet material by yourself.