Caring for your back

Caring for your back
Posted on in Featured, ReStores, Safety Managers

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Caring for your back. Muscle strains due to handling, pick-up and instore merchandise moving.

This analysis addresses muscle strains and in particular back injuries. We looked at one very large claim for all four coverage years, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 for common issues. The age of the workers for the selected claims were 32, 33, 62, 63, showing that the injuries cannot be dismissed because of age. The total claims costs exceeded $750,000.

Claimants self-identified on their claim report as two “Drivers” one “Assistant Manager” and another as a “Director”, showing that the safety and the needed self-care awareness is not limited to one job occupation.

Absent a pre-employment physical, employees must be forthcoming about any physical limitations. In two cases the Habitat injury was aggravated by a previous injury.

The objects being handled were

  • A 600 pound fireproof safe (lifting)
  • A Piano (lifting)
  • A dresser described as “heavy” (lifting)
  • Sheets of Plywood (lifting and walking backward)


It’s important to keep in mind that any object picked up a donation home will need to be moved at least three more times. The first time from the donation home to the truck. The second time from the truck to the store floor. The third time from the floor to the purchaser’s vehicle, assuming it is not moved during the interim to better organize the store space. If the item is not sold then it may need to be taken elsewhere for disposal.  So while you might think that the driver and helper have the task well in hand, other store employees may not be equally experienced or have the necessary lifting aids, and even managers may volunteer for the in store effort.

Here are some common ways to manage the exposures of the material handling by lifting safely.

  • Identify the need to pick up the item or decline? Some items may just be too difficult to accept. This discretion could extend to large sleeper sofas, or larger entertainment centers.
  • In the case of the Safe a scrap metal dealer might pick up the safe and give the value to Habitat. Similar to Piano and a piano dealer who manages used instruments.
  • Follow safe lifting practices.
  • Secure the load if it is on the lift for the dock or truck.
  • If a heavy object is coming into the store, notify store staff of the need for help to move the item form the truck.


As stakeholders in the entire Habitat for Humanity efforts, employees need to be able to ask for additional help and be given tasks that they can complete as a team or individually. Injuries sustained with one employer may impact successive injuries with another employer.

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