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Written by Gina H. Nov 8, 2019

How to Protect Your Back While Cleaning on a Jobsite

The daily routine of cleaning a job site is one that sees you bending over, twisting from side to side, and lifting heavy things as you make sure that the area is clear for the next working day. These repetitive motions put a lot of strain on your back, and if you're not taking steps to protect yourself, you can easily wind up with a back injury. It's important to protect your back from strain, tears, and slipped discs as it's difficult to heal the structures that support your spinal column. The following are some tips to help you avoid serious injury and damage when cleaning on a job site.

Always Use Proper Lifting Techniques

Let's face it: it's hard to resist the urge to bend from the waist when picking up heavy stuff. The fact of the matter is, your lumbar spine is susceptible to strain from bending over and lifting things. It's OK to make this move now and again, but if you're repeatedly picking up heavy things, bend from the knees to take the strain off your back. Your legs do a much better job of supporting you as you lift that heavy object. 

Keep the object close to your body and try not to twist from side to side as you hold it. The weight of the object can increase your momentum as you turn and cause you to go past your natural stopping point. When you overextend, you pull and tear ligaments and muscles in your back. Be aware of your body as you move the object and don't overdo your movements. And if you feel a twinge of pain in your back, stop what you're doing and start the motion over.

Use Lifting Aids

There is a saying of "work smarter, not harder," and it's truest when cleaning up a worksite. A lifting aid can be a dustpan and broom, shovel, a claw for picking things up, or even a leaf blower for clearing dust. Using tools or aids to help you in your cleaning duties means you bend down less frequently, don't reach out to pick up objects as often, and takes some strain off your back. You may also find that you get your work done quickly when you use aids and tools to get the job done. And your back is spared the strain and stress that comes with repetitive movement. 

Keep Your Items Within Reach

That is, don't put your cleaning items on the floor. Put them on a counter, shelf, or other surfaces that are at least waist height. It's better to reach upwards, even a little, to get what you need than to constantly bend over and put a strain on your back. You're already bending over on occasion to clean so why add to the strain? Putting your cleaning items up high eliminates the need to bend over and gives your back a break.

Loosen Up Before You Start

There are arguments for stretching and not stretching before starting an activity and all arguments have valid points. But you may find that it's better to loosen up your back and body before you start working. One working theory is that stretching increases the range of motion in the joint and lengthens the tendons and ligaments in preparation for an upcoming activity. It's usually better to stretch before cleaning a job site that requires different motions to get the job done. 

Stretching prepares your body for rigorous activity. If your soft tissues are "cold" before you lift something off the ground, even while using proper posture, you may be at a higher risk of injury. Getting warmed up with some stretching exercises lets your body adjust to the work more easily than it would if you hadn't taken the time to stretch. 

Use a Back Brace

Back braces come in multiple configurations and styles. You may want to work with a physician to find one that offers the kind of support you need for cleaning a job site. Or you may find that buying a one-size-fits-all brace offers the kind of support you need. However you go about finding a brace, you need to wear it with regularity and when you work. Use your smartphone to help remind you to put it on before you go to work by setting an alarm or reminder on your smartphone.

Track Your Pain Symptoms

Sometimes you do everything right and still, something goes wrong with your back. The pain may cause you to make an appointment for help from a physician, especially when rest and pain relievers don't help. Using an app like My Pain Diary can help you help your physician. My Pain Diary helps you create a log of when you hurt, what you were doing when you felt the pain, where it's located, and the strength of the pain. Showing the data to your physician can result in a focused treatment plan that attacks the pain at its source. And your physician can help you with avoiding a repeat of the pain in the future. 

Taking care of your back while on the job can save you from injury, pain, and rehabilitation. Engaging in self-care while engaging in cleaning duties on a job site can help you stay healthy longer and avoid an unwanted trip to the doctor's office or even the emergency room. Put your back first, make the right moves, and give it support when necessary so you can keep doing your job without physical trauma.

Guest Blog submitted by, Gina H.

Topics: Workplace Safety, Facility Cleaning

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