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Overexertion is not often looked upon as being a serious threat to our health and safety. However, it is a common cause of disabling injuries and results in much needless pain and suffering. What makes this cause of injury so disturbing is that it is also so easily avoided.
Overexertion results from trying to “muscle” our way through a job by ourselves or by using incorrect lifting techniques when moving or lifting heavy objects. Too often, we are inclined to add that extra package or box to avoid an additional trip, or we may overextend our reach to the point where we are out of balance and in jeopardy. This practice may cause serious damage due to falls or strains to the physical body.
Employees often try to handle too large a job too quickly and sustain muscle strain as a result. To some individuals, seeking help for a heavy or difficult job is a sign of weakness; while in reality it could prove to be a painful mistake not to ask for assistance. Ask the person who has just recovered from a strained back or a torn muscle what precautions should have been taken. The answers most often given are:
- “I should have gotten help.”
- “I should have made one more trip.”
- “I should have moved the ladder.”
- “I shouldn't have reached so far.”
Avoid overexertion especially if you are in poor health, of an advanced age, overweight, unaccustomed to prolonged or heavy physical activity, or if there is a history of heart disease or other serious health problems in your family. In addition, it’s always important to rely on your good common sense when practicing safe work habits. Know your physical limitations and don’t be reluctant to ask for help.