How to Help Minimize Back Strain

How to Help Minimize Back Strain

Posted by Andrew Greess on May 24, 2018

Lifting is a fact of our industry. You will be lifting things: backpack sprayers, hoses, cranking on a pull start motor, filling tanks, etc. There is little we can do to eliminate all the lifting, but there are things we can do to eliminate the amount of strain and wear and tear we put our bodies through.

Organization can eliminate back strain. How, you might ask? Think about your rig and where things are placed. Do you have to reach over the side wall of your truck to get your backpack sprayer? Why do that to yourself? You use it every day, put it at the back of your truck by the lift gate. Utilize the ledge it provides to easily slip into the straps and save your back, arm and shoulders some extra lifting. Use a valve everyday out on the rig – make sure the placement of it doesn't have you climbing over, bending and twisting your back into a pretzel to turn it on and off.

Back strain information

Again, the back of the rig at the tailgate is a great location for everyday use equipment. You can stand and easily reach for things without throwing your back out. 

Upgrading or changing your equipment for the person using it can be cheaper than paying out workers' comp claims. Got an older tech who you notice cranks the hose reel a little slower? Think about upgrading to an electric wind hose reel. You'll thank yourself you did and wonder why you didn't do it 10 years ago. It will save time and your back a lot of extra work. Get a variety of sizes of backpack sprayers, giving an option to your technicians the amount they'll be hauling around. Using a little common sense helps save your back too – instead of filling your tank full on the last job and carrying around 40lbs at the end of the day, only add 6 ounces or as much as you'll need to complete the job!

Changing the placement of equipment on your rig or upgrading to electric equipment to ease wear and tear on your body will help. It makes getting the job done easier. It helps you work a little longer and you're showing concern for your technician's well-being. All of these are benefits for a company looking to keep quality employees on the payroll.

The next video in the  injury prevention series talks about job site safety:

Andrew Greess: All Right. Back strain. Normally, we have a room full of young guys. Today, I've got a couple of guys with some gray hair like me, which is good because hopefully you'll understand what I'm talking about here. My goal here is, a lot of us in this industry have to do some lifting.

My thought is, your back has a certain number of years of life and a certain number of pounds it can lift, and let's not use them all up today. Let's try to stretch out the life of our back, and so I want to help eliminate unnecessary stretching, straining and lifting. That's my point here with this section.

My suggestion is, if it's a piece of equipment you're going to use every day, then that piece of equipment needs to be easy to get to, like if you're using a backpack every day, it needs to be close so you can get to it easily. If it's a valve you need to use every day, let's make it easy to get to.

If it's a piece of equipment you use once a month, I don't care if I have to reach for it or climb in to get it. Then, I don't care, but if it's every day, let's make it easier for our technicians to use.

We want to provide equipment that's appropriate to the employee. If you've got an older employee, maybe give that person a smaller backpack, or if you've got an older employee who does a good job but can't lift like he used to, maybe that person gets an electric hose reel.

It's a lot cheaper to provide the right equipment than it is to find another employee, or to get a workers' comp claim and have to cover that expense.

Another example, this was raised by someone in this room, they said, "You know what? When it's the last stop of the day, I don't fill my backpack up all the way. If I have as the last stop of the day, I can put six ounces of water in my backpack. I don't have to put four gallons and lift 40 pounds." That's a good idea. I never thought of that. Here are some examples.

Here's a photo. If you're using a backpack, in my opinion, the backpack should be by the tailgate because I want you to take the backpack off the back of the tailgate and put it on your back and lift with your legs, as opposed to lifting it over the side of the side rail, now you're lifting 40 or 50 pounds with your back. You can't use your legs like that.

Here's another example. On the left one, these are a hydrogen fuel and a tank fuel. We're using these every day, let's put it close to the side of the vehicle so our techs can get to it.

I mentioned I do another section on eliminating problems. If you check your filter every day, 25 percent of all equipment problems go away, so if you want your tech to check the filter every day, you put this filter and the shut off valve really close for that person to get to. Make it really easy and they'll do it.

Here's one where we raise the hose reel. This is the spray show where we raised the hose reel so the tech didn't have to bend over to crank it, saved a little wear and tear on the back.

Here's one where this is the company that is providing an electric hose reel to their employee so he didn't have to wind the hose reel every day. I can't tell you the number of 50‑year‑old customers I have who come in and say, "Hey, Andrew, my doctor said I've got to quit cranking the hose reel, put in an electric hose reel on there."

They come back the next week and say, "Why didn't you tell me to do that 10 years ago?" because you do this for 20 years man, you're going to know it. Eliminate back strain, eliminate stretching, eliminate wear and tear on your body. 

If you missed the first 12 videos in the series, please check out those blog posts here:

Spray Equipment Safety Training Seminar Introduction

Rules for Spray Equipment Safety Seminar Discussion

What are the Safety Risk Seminar Topics?

Vehicle Equipment Security: Protecting Your Driver and Others

Vehicle Equipment Security Securing Your Backpack, Gas Can, Hose Reel

Learn Which Vehicle Equipment Areas to Inspect Carefully

A Quick Check Can Keep You Out of Hall of Shame

The Importance of Checking Your Rig and Proper Equipment

Importance of Proper Vehicle Load Stability

How to Avoid Cuts, Burns & Abrasions on the Job

Preventing Slipping Injuries

Injury Prevention on the Job

You can also check out the slides from the Spray Equipment Safety Seminar here:

For more information on Andrew Greess, visit