Five Reasons to Not Lift That Heavy Box at Work
If you currently work for an employer that is constantly asking you to move heavy boxes, you may want to consider the health risks associated with lifting these heavy boxes. It can put severe stress on your back muscles leading to extreme pain and discomfort. According to Injury Facts, 2001 edition, 3.3 million people go to the emergency room each year for unintentional injuries, including back injuries from lifting heavy boxes.
Perhaps you are already worried about moving all the heaviest boxes, but you feel pressured by your employer, supervisors and other co-workers. While the law does not set a certain weight limit that employers may force their employees to lift, there are laws designed to protect the health and safety of their workers. The Health and Safety in Employment Act of 1992, mandates employers to take safety precautions to create a safe working environment for their employees. Under this law, there are several reasons why you can say no to your boss and refuse to move the boxes.
1. Already Feeling Discomfort. As soon as you start to feel a slight discomfort in your lower back area caused by lifting boxes, you should ask to stop. Otherwise, you risk having a serious back injury that could keep you off work for days or even weeks. Take a break and do some stretching to see if the pain will go away. You should also make an appointment with your doctor to see if there is a serious issue with your back.
2. Repetition with No Breaks. If you are lifting boxes repetitively throughout the day, it is vital that your employer offer you several breaks through the day. This can even be short 15-minute breaks, just enough to stretch your back muscles and take some stress off of them for a little while.
3. No Training. Employers should provide their employees with proper training showing them exactly how to lift heavy boxes properly. This training will help you learn the right way to lift a heavy box to keep the pressure and strain off of your back muscles. If your employer does not offer this training, you should request for them to do so, before you move more boxes.
4. Poor Workplace Layout. Part of keeping the workplace safe for the employees is to create a functional workplace layout that allows you to pick up the boxes properly. You cannot be forced to work in a cramped workplace that does not allow you to pick up the boxes the proper way or involves stretch and twisting while lifting the boxes.
5. Dangerous Working Environment. You employer must also provide you with a safe working environment that is conducive to picking up boxes. This means no crowded workspace, no walking up narrow stairways, no low-lying objects cluttered on the floor, no wet and slippery flooring, and no poor lighting conditions. You have the right to demand a safe working environment.
If you face any of these dilemmas at the workplace, you should express your concerns to your employer. Eliminating these factors at your place of employment will help to reduce the risk of falling and workplace injury. If your employer refuses to create a safe working environment, you may want to seek legal advice to gain a full understanding of what your rights are under the law in your state. You may also want to start looking for another place of employment.