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Take Care of your Back

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Take care of your back
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Back injuries are a very common injury within New Zealand. Many of these injuries are caused from lifting excessive weight or lifting incorrectly. Your back plays an important part in the structure of your body and injuring it causes discomfort and can put stress on the rest of your body.

This Safety Talk outlines some items to put into action when completing manual handling or working in prolonged stances to help protect your back from injury.


Correct posture is not an erect, military pose. It is maintaining the naturally occurring curves in your spine.

Your spine has two inward curves - one at the neck, and one at the lower back, and one outward cure at the upper back.

Keeping your spine aligned in this manner reduces everyday stresses on your back and minimizes the effects of the normal aging process on the spine.

When working in a crouched, bent or stooping position for a prolonged period, take regular breaks by standing up and bending backwards three times.

Prolonged standing often causes an increased curve in your back, You can elevate one foot on a stool or another object to take the stress off the lower spine. (see normal picture)

An increased curve in your back will jam the vertebrae together (sway back) if held too long. This position will cause lower back muscles and ligaments to tighten and lead to lower back pain.

Too little curve (flat back) will put extra pressure on the front of your discs. This can contribute to disc problems and pain.

Working Overhead

If possible avoid working on ladders. Use scaffolds or Elevated Work Platforms instead,

especially for long-term tasks or for jobs where you must handle heavy materials.

Lifting and working above shoulder height causes the back to arch, placing heavy

stress on the small joints of the spine.

Bench Work

For bench work, the right height is vital. Having the bench at the correct height for the task can take pressure off your back and arms.

Push do not pull when moving items on wheels pushing them allows you to

maintain the normal curves in your back.

Weight Transfer

Pull the object towards you while transferring your weight to the lift side. Lift only to the level required and shift your weight to your other leg while pushing the object into position.

Sheet Materials

When handling sheet materials, use proper techniques to protect your back. Where possible, store sheets at a convenient height and above ground on timber / trestles.

Grasp the sheet on the long side at mid-point. Tip the sheet up, then slide the sheet partway off the pile. Bend at the knee's to maintain the normal curve in your lower back.

Grasp sheet above and below at mid-point.

Carry sheet, keep back erect. Avoid leaning to one side.

When lifting a long load, Lift one end first, stand on end, grasp at mid-way and lift onto

shoulder to carry if possible.

If long load is heavy use a two person lift, a person at each end.

Remember to use correct manual handling techniques while lifting heavy items.

Lifters should be of similar height. Before lifting decide who is taking charge and what side you are carrying on.


When carrying single-handed (eg. paint can) Try to distribute the weight evenly on each side. If you are carrying a item single handedly (eg. 1 paint can), you can hold the free arm out straight or on your hip as a counterbalance.

Need Assistance?

Our team are available if you require assistance with Manual Handling and Lifting Techniques

Please contact us if you require any advice or check out our website:

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