What Are Safe Body Mechanics?
Body mechanics refers to the way we move during daily activities. Safe body mechanics, or proper body mechanics, may be able to prevent or correct problems with posture, such as how you stand or sit. By utilizing safe body mechanics you can learn to protect your body, especially your back, from pain and injury. Using good body mechanics is important for everyone.
Why do I need to have Good Body Mechanics?
Having your body in the right position helps protect your spine and joints and allows you to use your body in a safe way, particularly when you’re working.
Your spine goes through the midline of your back, giving your back stability and controlling movement. Your spine is made up of thirty-three bones called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of each other in a line, from the base of your skull to your tailbone.
Shock absorbers called disks lie between the vertebrae to cushion and protect the vertebrae and allow some movement of the spine, and the spinal cord sends messages from your brain to your body.
Joints allow movement and help to stabilize your body, and muscles and ligaments provide strength and power, support and stability for the joints.
Injury to the spine or joints of the body can cause serious problems such as a loss of feeling, movement, and strength, or loss of normal body functions.
How Safe Body Mechanics Protect the Spine and Joints
Maintaining good body mechanics are important because they will help protect your spine and other parts of your body from injury, particularly if you work in a job that requires physical movement such as lifting, driving, standing, or sitting – for extended periods of time.
Tips for Safe Body Mechanics in the Workplace
- When standing for long periods, be sure to wear supportive shoes. They protect your feet from injury, give you a firm foundation and keep you from slipping. Keep your feet flat on the floor, separated about 12 inches, and keep your back straight.
- When walking, keep your back straight and your knees soft.
- When lifting an object, your feet should be apart in a standing position, keep your back straight, lower your body to get close to the object, and bend from your hips and knees. Never bend at the waist. When turning, rotate your whole body, not just your back. Hold the object by putting your hands around it. Keeping your knees bent and your back straight, lift the object using your arm and leg muscles. Never use your back muscles. If the object is too heavy, ask another person to help you, or request a lifting device such as forklift or hand truck. There are several devices available to help move or lift heavy objects.
- When pushing or pulling, use the weight of your body to help push or pull an object. Your feet should be apart as in the standing position. Keep your back straight. Lower your body to get close to the object. Bend from your hips and knees, and never bend at the waist.
- When sitting choose a supportive chair that fits your physique and provides a straight back. Add a pillow or support for your lower back if needed. Do not sit for long periods of time. Get up and change positions. Adjust the monitor of your computer so that the top is at the same level as your eyes and use a paper holder so that documents are at the same level as the computer screen. Use a headset or the phone speaker if you use the telephone frequently.
- When you sit for a long time, raise one leg higher than the other to help keep from getting tired. This can be done by putting the leg on a footstool. If doing something while sitting, put a pillow on your lap to raise the items closer to you. This will help keep your back straight.
- When you are driving, adjust the seat to a comfortable distance to the wheel. Sit back in the seat so your knees are even with the seat.
Safe Body Mechanics and Employee Safety
Ergonomics is the study of body mechanics. It studies the physiologic limitations of body movement and what factors contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. It evaluates what factors contribute to repetitive stress injuries, and what changes can be made in the workplace to protect employees from developing such work-related injuries.
Charles Jeffress, who heads the federal agency Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated that, “Science is clear that the more you repeat a motion, the more likely you are to get hurt – though the number of repetitions for each person may be different.”
Healthy Lifestyle Habits That Help Prevent Injury
- Use your mind and body together in forms of exercise that help you relax, such as yoga.
- Engage in regular exercise that maintains strength and flexibility. Staying in shape requires aerobic exercise to get all your muscles working together, improves your blood flow, speeds up your metabolism to burn up more calories, and boosts your energy. Exercise should last a minimum of 20-30 minutes at least 3 times per week. Employees work hard, but they don’t necessarily get the proper kind of exercise.
- Get proper rest.
- Eat a well-balanced diet, low in fat and sweets, and high in fruits, grains, and vegetables, avoid fast foods.
- Know your body and how it works. Each body is unique, know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Practice healthy life-style behaviors to prevent work-related injury and promote optimal health and well-being.
How to Learn More!
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