Back Injury Prevention

Have you ever given much thought to your back? It s there when you need it, but only if you don’ t abuse it. The back is made up of four major parts. The spine, nerves, muscles, and the spinal cord. There are thirty-three bones in the spine and thirty-one pairs of nerves branching out from the spinal cord. All of them must work together. If they don t, you could end up with anything from a strain to a ruptured disk, fractured vertebrae, and a debilitating disease like arthritis.

  • To help prevent a back injury you should exercise, practice good posture, eat the right foods and watch your weight. Check with your doctor for m uscle strengthening exercises for the back.
  • Other things your can do to prevent back injuries include using work- saving devices – hand trucks, forklifts, wheelbarrows and dollies can assist you. When you have an object to lift that is too heavy or bulky, get help! Ask a co-worker for assistance. Remember, two backs are stronger than one.
  • Now, what can you do when you have to do some lifting? Check out the object to be lifted. Think about how you are going to grasp the load and make sure there is a clear path of travel so you won’ t stumble. Before you lift stand close to the object, bend down at the knees and straddle it, get a good grip, and lift with your legs while keeping your back straight. The secret is to let your legs do the work.
  • It doesn’ t have to be a heavy load – even a small, very light object lifted incorrectly can trigger a back injury.
  • Back injuries can be painful, disabling, paralyzing, and sometimes even fatal. Protect your back by following the guidelines.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Injury due to falls is a major problem in industry today. You always hear about the incidents where an employee fell from a great height and lost his or her life. But there are more common fall injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, cuts/lacerations, punctures, etc. that can require a trip to the doctor’s office. The pain and suffering from a knee or back injury is very real, and a very realistic concern. Falls from one level to another are certainly pose the highest risk physically, but there are a couple of other types of falls that need to be looked at as well.

How many of you have ever fallen down? What were you doing at the time?
(So, falling from one level to another/from an elevated height is not the only fall hazard.)

Let’s look at the four main categories of falls.

Slipping (same level)

  • Ice on the sidewalks
  • Oil or grease on the floor
  • Loose rugs on waxed (slick) floors
  • Food on the floor after breaks and lunch
  • Pipe, welding rod stubs, or other rolling stock on the floor
  • Trash, debris (ex. sawdust) on the floor

Tripping (same level)

  • Irregular surfaces
  • Lines, cords, hoses in walkways
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor housekeeping
  • Rug edges not flat
  • Work shoes worn/in poor condition

Collisions (same level)

  • Blind corners in hallways and warehouses
  • Equipment, such as forklifts, which swing wide
  • Low clearances

Elevations (different levels)

  • Misjudging a step or handhold
  • Over-reaching on ladders, scaffolds, and man-lifts
  • Unstable ladders (top not secured, feet not prevented from slipping)
  • Food on the floor after breaks and lunch
  • Unguarded edges
  • Not using fall arrest equipment properly/not hooked off

Common Gases-Hazards

Toolbox Safety Talks for Mechanical Construction Workers – Volume VI

TOPIC: Confined Spaces – Common Gases/Hazards #9




  • Entry into pipelines, ductwork, equipment housings, boilers, manholes, sewers, vaults, tunnels, shafts, vessels, pits, tanks, etc. that have limited or restricted means for entry or exit and are not designed for continuous human occupancy.
  • Hot work inside a confined space that could change what would otherwise be acceptable atmospheric conditions to hazardous atmospheric conditions.


  • Oxygen – Levels in confined spaces must be between 19.5% and 23.5%. Levels below 19.5% can lead to immediate organ damage and ultimately death. Also, since oxygen accelerates the rate of combustion, levels that are too high can make the space more susceptible to fires and explosions.
  • Methane – Is highly flammable (it is the main constituent of natural gas). Methane is not considered to be toxic. However, it can displace oxygen in the lungs leading to asphyxiation and suffocation.
  • Carbon Monoxide – Prevents efficient exchange of oxygen in the circulatory system and can be fatal.
  • Hydrogen Sulfide – Is highly flammable, and is considered a toxic substance. It is an irritant that can cause respiratory failure over time if it goes undetected.


  • Continuously monitor the atmosphere inside the space for hazardous gases.
  • Use an appropriate, properly calibrated monitoring instrument with a built-in hazard detection alarm. If the alarm system(s) activates, evacuate the space immediately.

Fire Extinguishers Use

Equipment Control

Equipment/ Control

(vii) Handheld and stand-mounted drills (including impact and rotary hammer drills)
CONTROL: ventilation (local exhaust ventilation or LEV)


Hammer drill, Rotohammer, Roto-hammer

Best Practice Tips

OSHA1 requires the employer to ensure that:

  • The equipment is equipped with a commercially available shroud or cowling with a dust collection system that provides at least the minimum air flow required by the manufacturer
  • The shroud or cowling is intact and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • The hose connecting the tool to the vacuum is intact and without kinks or tight bends
  • The filter(s) on the vacuum are cleaned or changed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • The dust collection bags are emptied to avoid overfilling
  • A HEPA-filtered vacuum is used when cleaning holes; compressed air can be used in conjunction with a HEPA-filtered vacuum or hole cleaning kit designed for use with compressed air
  • Additional exhaust is provided as needed to minimize the accumulation of visible airborne dust when operating indoors or in an enclosed space (area where airborne dust can build up)

Other tips:

  • Check the air flow rate to ensure it is equal to or greater than recommended by the manufacturer
  • Visually inspect the drill, hood (shroud or cowl) and the dust collection system to ensure they are properly connected
  • Visually inspect the drill, hood (shroud or cowl) and the dust collection system for missing or damaged parts
  • Check the drill, hood (shroud or cowl), and dust collection system regularly to ensure the system is operating so that no visible dust2 is emitted from the process once the drill has entered the substrate (material)
  • Check and replace the filter and empty the dust collection unit, and use filters and collection bags for collecting silica dust
  • If applicable, regularly check the automatic filter cleaning system to ensure it is operating properly to maintain maximum air flow and suction power and can be used in conjunction with the HEPA filter

Driving in the Rain Safety

Water on the roadway becomes a lubricant that makes road surfaces slick. It’s also said that oil and dust on the road can make the road surface even slicker. Combined with high speeds, wet roads become deadly. It takes diligence on the part of the driver to stay safe during rainy drives. Reduce vehicle speeds. Scan ahead. Wear your seat belt. Reduce distractions. Focus on the road ahead. Review these safety tips with drivers in your organization.

11 Worksafe Tips For Driving Safely In The Rain

  1. Everyone in the vehicle should wear their seat belt.
  2. Leave early and plan a route that avoids traffic congestion.
  3. Its Missouri law that whenever wipers are used, headlights must be on.
  4. Reduce vehicle speeds – avoid hydroplaning.
    • Hydroplaning means that the vehicles’ tires actually travel on top of a water layer instead of contacting the road surface.
    • Hydroplaning can cause the vehicle to spin out of control, much like it is on ice.
    • If hydroplaning occurs, keep the steering wheel straight and let off of the gas pedal.
    • Gently apply brakes – don’t lock them up!
  5. Avoid a collision by scanning ahead for:
    • Accidents
    • Water over the road
    • Stopped or slowed traffic
  6. Reduce distractions like:
    • Cell phone use
    • Eating, drinking, grooming
    • Manipulating vehicle systems
    • GPS
    • Changing CDs or radio stations
  7. Focus on the road ahead and give driving full concentration during the rain.
  8. Don’t use cruise control – the vehicle may actually accelerate when hydroplaning occurs! Use your headlights.
  9. If rain becomes heavy, pull off of the roadway into a parking lot or side street to wait it out.
  10. Never drive through rushing water over the roadway.
  11. Water can easily pick up and move an automobile!

General Safety – Hazard Awareness

A hazard is defined as a condition or changing set of circumstances that presents a potential for injury, ill- ness, or property damage. The potential or inherent characteristics of an activity, condition, or circumstance that can produce adverse or harmful consequences.

An accident is defined as an unfortunate event often the result of carelessness or ignorance. An unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance usually resulting in an unfavorable outcome.

There are some key words in these definitions: Unplanned; Unforeseen; Unfortunate; Unfavorable and most importantly POTENTIAL!

For an unplanned or unforeseen event to take place, there has to be potential!. Complacency and taking things for granted are causes of a tremendous number of injuries each year. Recognizing hazards and doing something about them is everyone’s responsibility!

So as you begin work, ask yourself:

  • Do I have the right tools/equipment for the job?
  • Have I inspected my tools/equipment to make sure they are in good repair or am I trying to get by?
  • Is the work laid out to provide safe completion of the job?
  • Are the materials I am using safe, and do I need additional personal protective equipment such as: safety glasses, gloves, hard hat, respirator, etc.?
  • Is there a safer way to accomplish the task?
  • Are all necessary equipment guards in place?
  • Are written procedures such as lockout/tagout being followed?