ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Overexertion, the act of performing a job task that is beyond an individual's physical limitations, is one of Anniston Army Depot's top causes of injury.

These musculoskeletal injuries could take the form of a strain or sprain. They often happen when an individual lifts an object that is too heavy or lifts in an incorrect manner.

"As much as possible, employees should use mechanical lifting devices," said Ken Fagan, a safety specialist in the depot's Safety Office.

Fagan said prior to lifting an object, the load should be sized up by lifting a corner or in some other way determining if it is too heavy. If the weight is more than can be lifted alone, employees should ask a co-worker for assistance or lift the item mechanically.

"Too often, people want to lift by themselves and they get injured," said Fagan. "There is typically someone nearby in the shop who can assist with lifting, pushing or pulling the part they need into position."

According to the National Safety Council, overexertion is the third leading cause of unintentional injuries in the United States.

ANAD had 11 injuries between November 2012 and January 2013 that were coded as overexertion injuries. Injured body parts ranged from the shoulder and wrist to the lower back.

There are several causes for overexertion injuries including lifting incorrectly, working in an awkward position and repetitive motions.

"Employees need to ensure they take periodic rest breaks, particularly if their job requires a lot of repetitive motions," said Fagan.

Other ways to reduce the risk of an overexertion injury, according to the NSC are:

• Stretch and warm up before lifting
• Keep your back straight
• Bend your knees
• Never bend or twist your back when lifting
• Never lift with arms extended
• Make sure your footing is solid with your feet shoulder-width apart
• Keep the load being lifted close to your body
• Lift with your legs, not your back
• Limit the amount of weight you carry
• Get help to carry heavy, bulky or large loads
• Keep pathways clear to avoid tripping

For questions or concerns regarding safety in your work area, contact the depot's Safety Office at Ext. 7541.