Spring cleaning tasks can present injury risks for employees, group says
Employees run the risk of being injured while preparing buildings and grounds for spring.
Statistics show that thousands of orthopedic injuries occur each year as a result of yard work, cleaning and painting.
"Many spring cleaning injuries occur when people rush or do not follow the proper safety precautions," said Danton Dungy, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Because most injuries are preventable, orthopedic surgeons stress using the appropriate equipment for each project and that people take their time when cleaning in order to minimize these seasonal accidents."
To prevent injuries, Dungy recommended employers:
- Teach proper lifting techniques. Employees should separate their feet, shoulder-width apart, keep their backs upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles. Remind them to lift with their leg muscles and don't try to lift any object if it is too heavy or an awkward shape. Urge them to consider a team-lift approach for bulkier items.
- Review ladder safety. Ladders used for chores -- such as washing windows, painting, cleaning gutters, and trimming trees -- should be placed on a firm, level surface. Remind employees to never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft or wet.
- Reaching or leaning too far to one side when working on a ladder can also make an individual lose his balance and fall. The person's belly button should not go beyond the sides of the ladder.
- Stress importance of ergonomics and clothing for lawn tasks. Employees should avoid prolonged repetitive motions during activities such as digging, planting, trimming and pruning. It is also important to wear gloves to reduce blistering and protect the skin.
- Encourage frequent breaks. Remind employees to take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration. If someone is experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, they should seek emergency care immediately.
April 16, 2009
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