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toolbox talk sprains and strains

Toolbox Talk: Strains and Sprains

Max People Health and Safety Bulletin

Sprains and strains account for about a third of injuries in construction. A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Sprain injuries involve a stretching or a tearing of this tissue. Ankle, knee, and wrist injuries account for the majority of sprains. A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon, the tissue that connects muscles to bones. Back injuries are the most prevalent regarding strains. Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result in a partial or complete tear.

Discussion points

To minimize the chances of sprains, observe the following practices:

  • Use extra caution when working on slippery surfaces or walking across uneven terrain.
  • Always wear appropriate and properly fitting footwear for your job.

To minimize the possibility of incurring strains, observe the following practices:

  • Before any heavy lifting activity, always warm-up, using moderate stretching exercises. Do not stretch aggressively as you may overstretch and injure yourself.
  • Always plan the lift. Consider the weight of the object; how far you must carry it and your route of travel.
  • Lift objects in the "power zone”. This is the area between mid-thigh and mid­ chest height. Avoid lifting objects outside this zone. Use your best judgment when lifting heavy objects.
  • Do not attempt to lift an object that exceeds your strength and use extreme caution when lifting heavy objects. Always get a buddy to help you lift anything exceeding 20kgs.
  • Always carry objects close to your body.
  • Always lift slowly and smoothly.
  • Avoid twisting. Always turn the whole body as one unit when changing direction while carrying a heavy object.
  • Move heavy objects by pushing or pulling, whenever possible. Pushing is always preferable.
  • Always lift with your legs and not your back.