Injuries from pushing and, particularly, pulling tasks cost U.S. businesses tens of billions of dollars each year, yet are largely preventable when ergonomic equipment and ergonomic practices are introduced into the workplace. In our last post, we talked about how these two common work tasks place workers at risk for potentially debilitating musculoskeletal injuries. Today, we take a closer look at the risk factors associated with pulling heavy carts and equipment.
One-handed pulling tasks. When facing the direction of travel, pulling must be done one-handed, significantly decreasing the operator’s control of the load. The worker must stretch his arm out behind him and twist his body unnaturally to face the direction of travel. This places undue strain on the back, shoulder, arm and wrist muscles, increasing the chance injury.
Changing direction or maneuvering a wheeled cart while pulling it behind you with one hand is not only awkward and difficult, it focuses pressure on wrist, elbow and shoulder joints and on the tender muscles of the lower back, increasing muscle strain to dangerous levels. There is also danger that the operator may lose control of the load, particularly when on inclined grades. If the cart “overruns” the operator, there is risk of additional injury to the operator or others in the cart’s path.
Two-handed pulling tasks. When using two hands to pull a load, the operator must walk backwards, facing away from the direction of travel. Pulling places significant stress on the arm, shoulder and wrist muscles. While using two hands allows the operator to maintain better control over the cart, particularly when maneuvering around turns or in tight spaces, the inability to see the travel path invites disaster.
Facing away from his direction of travel, the operator remains unaware of obstacles in his path. He cannot prepare for dips or rough spots in the travel path that can affect his balance or the balance of the equipment he is pulling. He remains unaware of traffic sharing the same path, inviting collision.
The risk of stumbling and being overrun by the equipment he is pulling is increased when the operator is facing away from his direction of travel. Constantly looking over his shoulder twists the body, increasing strain on lower back, shoulders, arm, wrist and neck muscles and inviting injury.
Preventing injury from pulling tasks. DJ Products’ ergonomically-designed, motorized carts, tugs and movers take the strain out of pulling tasks. Battery operation allows a single worker to move loads without physical effort. Walk-behind design allows a full view of the path ahead, guaranteeing maximum operator control and safety. For more information about our full line of ergonomically-designed carts, tugs, and movers, visit the DJ Products website.