While companies increase safety awareness and attempt to promote an effective safety culture, a plethora of safety acronyms and terminology flood the workforce. Although they might be unique in name, their purpose is similar. They are tools used to increase safety awareness and reduce or eliminate injuries and incidents.
A popular term finding its way into jobsite safety discussions is body positioning. The beauty of this term is that it needs no justification as its meaning is applicable to all areas or industries. It can describe positioning oneself away from an open-ended pipe or correctly positioning the body to manually pick up a heavy object.
Although the term covers an abundance of situations, it finds significance in specific areas when considering construction. Proper body positioning can be used to avoid a hazardous outcome that is both unwanted and unexpected.
Construction sites can be extremely busy workplaces with people and machinery moving in various areas while all contributing to the project’s completion. It is safe to say that the larger the construction site, the more moving equipment experienced.
Utilizing spotters and adhering to work zones and site traffic routes are all good examples of proactive behavior, but individuals have to take responsibility for themselves as well. Good body positioning serves as an excellent means of combating a hazardous outcome.
Employees can position themselves out of harm’s way. Those who are mindful of designated equipment traffic routes can position themselves in areas set apart from equipment movement. While spotters focus on the operator and the equipment, individuals can position themselves away from the heavy equipment activity by removing themselves from the area. The best body positioning tactic is to remove the body from potential harm.
The severity of danger increases with every foot of excavated depth. Compromised walls and limitations in exits all have a compounding effect. Additionally, the open hole aspect produces an extra layer of danger.
Using good body positioning, individuals avoid harm associated with excavations of all sizes and depths. Proper body positioning keeps individuals from unsuspectedly falling into an open hole. Individuals can position themselves away from dangerous edges while working. When working inside an excavation, the workforce can position themselves close to exits, within structural shoring of excavation edges, and they can always position themselves outside of the excavation if possible to perform remedial tasks.
Manual labor can result in numerous different personal injuries resulting from muscle strain and tears. Using proper body positioning techniques, individuals can avoid injuries associated with repetitive motion, heavy lifting, and reaching and straining.
Changing one’s stance can induce breaks where that particular act might not be of normal focus. Those swinging sledgehammers to loosen pipe unions can easily pull muscles or enact back strain. Simply changing the hand arrangement on the sledgehammer changes up body positioning.
Those leaning over equipment or supplies to loosen bolts on a fitting can alleviate the chance of muscle strain by changing the body position being used. Clearing the work area and moving closer to the equipment receiving attention can eliminate the need to overreach and pull muscles.
Utilizing effective body positioning techniques like keeping the feet flat on the ground with the legs spread apart as wide as the shoulder pattern can assist when manually lifting a load. Further examples of good body positioning concurrent with this lifting action include keeping the back straight and using the legs to initiate the lift.
Training and Education
While the mechanics of proactive body mechanics and positioning serve as an effective countermeasure in avoiding injury, they serve no purpose unless proper use is communicated to the workforce. Integrating this technique in a company’s training program results in adequate communication of its potential positive results.
In addition to including body positioning techniques in training programs, the methodology should be a topic in tailgate meetings and safety discussions. It can also serve as mitigating measures to various hazards identified in the JSA process. Adding this behavior to the workforce’s vocabulary and hazard avoiding arsenal increases the potential for a safe outcome and ensures all employees return home safe and sound at the end of the day.
Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. Besides providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with nine years of experience. He also contributes to Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and Masonry Magazine. Nick has a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. 210-240-7188 Nick@shalemag.com