Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Back Injury Prevention

Back Injury Prevention

Back injuries account for 20-40% of work related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD) injuries according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Approximately 80-90% of the population is expected to experience low back pain sometime in their lifetime. Back injury prevention involves identifying and evaluating potential physical risk factors and developing and implementing controls to minimize exposure to back injury hazards.

Physical risk factors include manual material handling such as lifting, lowering, carrying, and pushing equipment, tools, materials, and supplies. Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) conducts material handling evaluations upon request, and provides recommendations for reducing the risk of back injury through employee training, the use of equipment, and/or modifying work practices.


Employees regularly lifting more than 20 pounds should receive training on safe lifting techniques. Supervisors can use the training available through Human Resource Services’ Learning and Organizational Development, the resources linked to this page, or contact OH&S to schedule an evaluation.