Any employee that has to work in an environment where heavy lifting is required should be well aware of the associated risks.
Even though HSE, an independent health and safety watchdog, states that The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 sets no specific weight limits when it comes to lifting an object, it recommends making an ergonomic assessment of the situation to find a practical solution.
Sprains and strains can also happen at home while rearranging furniture, carrying out household chores or even moving house. In this situation, it is the individual’s responsibility to ensure his or her safety.
Nevertheless, it is still vitally important to understand the health risks associated with heavy lifting and what can be done to prevent them.
The most common risk associated with heavy lifting is back injury and is usually down to using the wrong technique rather than a too-heavy load. If the object isn’t too heavy or cumbersome to carry, you should keep a straight back with a slight bending of the hips and knees. Keep the load close to your waist and avoid twisting.
A back injury can be excruciatingly painful and may significantly affect a worker’s job prospects as well. Any injury should be immediately seen to in order to locate and cure the problem.
Even though we tend put complete trust in medical professionals, it’s not unheard of to get an incorrect diagnosis or treatment, seeing as the back and spine is made up of 24 small bones, discs, ligaments, tendons, a spinal cord, nerves and muscles. If you feel you’re the victim of medical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.
Strenuous activity like a vigorous workout at the gym or indeed, heavy lifting, can also cause a hernia injury. A hernia is evident when an internal part of the abdomen pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall typically caused by an overzealous activity.
In several instances, it is difficult to diagnose a hernia because there are very few symptoms apart from a lump or protrusion, which is often painless. An ultrasound scan is the most common way of detecting a problem.
However in the most serious cases, a hernia can cause an obstruction in the bowel or interrupt the blood supply to the herniated tissue, both of which are medical emergencies.
Excessive stress or pressure on the neck caused by heavy lifting can also cause a severe injury. Headaches, shoulder pain and numbness or tingling in limbs can also develop as a result.
In minor cases, a simple strain can be helped with rest and anti-inflammatory medication. However, a pinched nerve or damage to a vertebral disk can cause sharp, shooting sensations in the neck and arms.
Shoulder and arm injury
Although shoulder discomfort may be a result of referred pain from another source such as the neck or back, it is still possible to damage this joint through heavy lifting.
Minor muscle strains are common, but acute injuries including a rotator cuff tear, AC joint sprain, clavicle fracture or a dislocated shoulder are all potential injuries.