Looking out the office window I spied a team of roofers stripping a damaged roof, repairing it and re-shingling. The sight of 12 men on a steep roof, with very few safety precautions in place gave me heart palpitations—a slight fear of heights revisited perhaps?!
Setting aside the slips/falls risk, I observed several shockingly egregious biomechanical no-nos. Here you can see the torqueing whilst lifting heavy, bulky packages of roofing materials; bending at the waist, as opposed to lifting correctly…can you spot some additional safety offenses?
It made me think about the diversity of job tasks and the epidemic of ignorance of proper biomechanics, and by ignorance I mean that people just don’t know!
Each of these roofers is important to someone—as a father, husband, friend, son, brother, co-worker. When (and it is a near certainty that an injury will occur with the every day strain he places upon himself with poor biomechanics) he becomes injured, each of these people will be adversely affected. Not to mention the poor injured soul who thinks that the injury occurred because of an isolated action. He won’t know that it was repeated at-risk motions that gradually wore his body down until it gave in to the damage. He won’t know that the injury could have been prevented. And, most unfortunate, he’ll likely return to the same job with the same bad habits and become re-injured. Thus, the tragic cycle of injury-work comp—re-injury and thus the business owner’s workers’ comp premium skyrockets.
So, now I’ll step down from my soapbox and talk about solutions…
- Stretch muscles before, during and after repeated and/or strenuous activities. These stretches don’t take much time, they are simple and most importantly, they are effective!
- Always Face the Load When Lifting. This mantra reflects the spine’s desire to NOT twist!
- Keep the Load Close to Your Body. Reaching out from your body puts incrementally more and more pressure on your spine—again, it does NOT like this!
- Keep Your Head Level While Lifting. This helps to keep the naturally occurring curves in your spine in the correct position.
- Wear some type of safety harness while working on high, unprotected surfaces, like a ROOF!
So, these are the tips that I share with you from these photos. Have you got some good ones to add to my list? Let’s hear ‘em!