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Do you know the difference between a sprain and a strain and how to prevent them? 

A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones. 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 in regard to strains.

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

  • Always wear appropriate and proper fitting footwear for your job.
  • Use extra caution when walking across uneven or slippery surfaces such as ice or loose gravel.
  • These are areas where you could easily turn or twist an ankle or knee.
  • When stepping off ladders or machinery, always look where you are placing your feet, before you put your full weight on them.
  • Practice safety measures to help prevent falls. For example, keeping commonly used files within reach or using a platform step to access safely.

To minimise the possibility of incurring a strain, observe the following practices:

  • Where possible try to avoid manual lifts. Ask yourself, do I really need to handle this in the first place?
  • Consider if there is any equipment that you can utilise to assist you in the moving or handling of the object.
  • Can you manage the object on your own or do you need someone or others to assist?
  • Is the packaging damaged or in a safe condition to handle the object?
  • Plan your work areas to eliminate any heavy lifting required.
  • If you need to lift any object, no matter how small, assess the activity using a Right to Start.
  • If you intend to lift something keep back straight, use your legs to power the lift and keep the load close to your body.
  • Avoid twisting. Always turn the whole body as one unit when changing direction while carrying an object.

Remember always assess the risk, plan the task and use the correct tools and equipment to minimise the risk of incurring a sprain or strain.