Contractor Safety Share

Sharing safety information

Overexertion - The Leading Cause of Back Injuries



A contractor was working in a material lay down area, or bone yard.  He was lifting a five-gallon bucket with parts for connecting tube scaffolding.  As he lifted the bucket up from his waist, his shoulder started to hurt, which resulted into a muscle strain. 

Factors to consider at your site and/or project include, but not limited to the following:

  • Plan ahead before lifting. Knowing what you're doing and where you're going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear a path, and if lifting something with another person, make sure both of you agree on the plan. 
  • Lift close to your body. You will be a stronger, and more stable lifter, if the object is held close to your body rather than at the end of your reach. Make sure you have a firm hold on the object you are lifting, and keep it balanced close to your body. 
  • Feet shoulder width apart. A solid base of support is important while lifting. Holding your feet too close together will be unstable, too far apart will hinder movement. Keep the feet about shoulder width apart and take short steps. 
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Practice the lifting motion before you lift the object, and think about your motion before you lift. Focus on keeping you spine straight--raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees. 
  • Tighten your stomach muscles. Tightening your abdominal muscles will hold your back in a good lifting position and will help prevent excessive force on the spine.
  • Lift with your legs. Your legs are many times stronger than your back muscles--let your strength work in your favor. Again, lower to the ground by bending your knees, not your back. Keeping your eyes focused upwards helps to keep your back straight. 
  • If you're straining, get help. If an object is too heavy, or awkward in shape, make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.

    Know Your Weights…


    Building Material                                            Unit Weight 


    Ladder, 8 ft step(fiberglass)                            45 pounds

                 24 ft extension (fiberglass)                 58 pounds

    Fire Extinguisher, 20lb. ABC                           33 pounds

    Insulation, Fiberglass                                      2 pounds per cubic foot 

    Lumber  2x6                                                    2 pounds per foot

                  4x4                                                    3 pounds per foot

    Plywood ½ inch                                              45 pounds

                   ¾ inch                                              68 pounds

    Baled hay or straw                                          8-14 lbs per cubic foot

    1 Gallon of Water                                            8 pounds

    1 cubic foot of dirt                                           867 pounds

    4 inch diameter steel pipe                              12 pounds per foot


    Keep these items in mind for reference when you go lift materials.  What are some of the weights you may lift throughout the day?

Consider this example as you complete today’s work activities.

Safety Flash Action Items:
  • Date Contractor Safety Flash posted for all employees to review: _______________
  • Safety Talk meeting date: _______________
  • Full employee attendance and participation at safety meeting to review this incident (documentation required).
  • Employees understand urgency in protecting themselves and others.
  • Supervisors and Employees are clear which items shared in this Safety Flash are mandatory.
  • Employees/Supervisors will focus on recommended actions during future work activities of a similar nature.
Contract Firm Management Rep Signature____________________

THINK about the hazards associated with your particular work, and the steps that can be taken to increase safety on your job.


If you have questions about this CONTRACTOR SAFETY FLASH, please contact

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