Toolbox Topic- Backpack Safety


By: Stephen Gros

Is your backpack causing you back pain?

Concern is growing that workers are carrying too much weight on their backs when using backpacks to transport tools on the worksite. Carrying overweight backpacks can lead to neck, shoulder and back discomfort. It is recommended that backpacks weigh no more than 10-15 percent of your body weight.

Choosing the right backpack

When choosing the right backpack, look for one that has some of the following features:

  • Wide, padded shoulder straps – Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders causing upper back and shoulder pain. Eventually arms and hands will tingle and become weak due to nerve compression and a compromised circulatory system.
  • Two shoulder straps – Having only one strap can cause alignment problems in the spine.
  • Padded back – Padding on the part of the backpack that touches your back should provide protection from any oddly-shaped objects inside.
  • Waist strap – The waist strap can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.
  • Multiple compartments – Having multiple compartments will distribute the weight more evenly throughout the backpack.

Tips for safe backpack use

  • Wear both straps – Use of one strap shifts the weight to one side, causing muscle spasms and low back pain. By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed, and a well aligned symmetrical posture is promoted. Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the body.
  • Distribute weight evenly – Put the heavier items on the bottom and against the back to keep the weight off of your shoulders and maintain neutral posture. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back.
  • Take a load off – Take the backpack off when you will be standing for a long period of time. Extended carrying time increases the pressure on your spine.

Stephen Gros

Stephen serves as the Gulf of Mexico safety manager. He joined Danos in 2000 as a computer programmer and worked in production operations as a personnel coordinator and then an account manager before moving to the safety team in 2012. Stephen graduated from Nicholls State University with a bachelor of science in computer information systems and has been NACE I certified since 2014.


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