The holidays can be stressful. Making lists, checking them twice, cooking, cleaning, putting up decorations, shopping, fighting through crowds, etc. It seems like there’s never enough time and everyone is rushing. The added stress this time of year can take its toll physically, especially on your back. It’s important to take care of yourself this holiday season by avoiding potentially risky situations that could cause neck and back issues.
Decorating Dos: Proper Lifting
Decorating for the holidays can be a fun family activity. Hanging lights outside is often a holiday family tradition. Most people tend to put their decorations in boxes at the end of the season up in their attic or tucked away in their basement. When the time of year comes back around to dig them back out, it’s important to remember proper lifting techniques as you’re lifting box after box. Remember to always lift with your knees, keeping your back as straight as possible. If you feel strain or pressure don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Most common lifting injuries could be avoided by using the buddy system. For proper lifting techniques please refer to our previous blog here. Bending over too much can also be a common cause of injury and strain. If your task requires you to be hunched constantly, perhaps pulling up a chair and taking a seat could help.
Decorating Dos And Dont’s: Working with Heights
Sticking with the buddy system, if your decorating requires the use of a ladder, make sure you have a spotter or assistant. Bending, twisting, and lifting at elevated heights can cause their own issues but most people don’t consider what happens if you take a fall. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over 500,000 people are treated annually for ladder related injuries, more than 300 of which proved to be fatal. Furthermore, over 90% of these injuries are home related. Proper ladder safety should always be a priority. According to OSHA it is important to:
- Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
- Avoid electrical hazards! – Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
- Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is damaged, do not use it.
- Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing
- Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
- Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.
- Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
- Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
- Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
- Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
- Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
- An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
- The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
- A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
- Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
- Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.
Don’t Go Overboard
Another common cause of back strain and injury happens to most people every year. Over indulging this holiday season can help to quickly pack on a few extra pounds around the midsection. This extra weight can cause added strain on your back and neck. Enjoy that piece of pie, just don’t go overboard.
The holidays should be about family and friends. Here at the offices of William Capicotto MD, we wanted to wish you a Happy Holidays. Please stay safe! We understand accidents happen and our experienced team are here to help with your neck and back injuries to get you back on your feet. Call today to schedule a consultation (716) 881-0382.