Can you think of even one occupation where you never have to lift? Lifting is very much a part of our everyday lives and jobs. And, because of this, we tend to do it without thinking, or at least we do until our backs, legs, or abdomen start to hurt. Lifting incorrectly can result in a variety of injuries, but it can be avoided by practicing safe lifting techniques. Safe lifting plays an important role in keeping your body healthy. Although there doesn’t seem to be just one correct way to lift an object, there are lifting techniques that reduce the possibility of getting injured.
The following safety tips provide helpful ergonomic guidelines for the variety of different ‘lifting’ situations workers may encounter.
· Consider the weight of the load being lifted. Will you need help or mechanical assistance? Is the load too heavy for one person?
· Consider the size and/or shape of the load. Do they create any additional challenges?
· Determine if you will have to turn or change direction while carrying the load.
· Find out if the route you will take with the load is clear of obstructions, slip, trip or fall hazards.
· Make sure you have a back support belt and are wearing it properly.
When lifting a load from ground level:
· Get as close as possible to the load.
· Bend your knees, not your back.
· Get a good grip on the object and test its weight.
· Keep the load close to your body and lift using your legs.
· Be aware of your balance and what part of your body is doing the work – it should be your legs.
When lifting a load from overhead:
· Make certain you are standing on a stable surface before you attempt the lift.
· Test the load to be sure you can lift it safely.
· Take the object off the shelf or support carefully, maintaining your balance.
· Maintain control of the load, and bring it down to waist level.
When lifting from a shelf, desk or counter:
· Pull the load close to your body and test its weight.
· Shift the weight of the load to your legs by keeping it close.
· Avoid reaching and lifting at the same time.
· Look ahead to make certain your path is clear.
· Avoid stairs if possible. If you take stairs, use the banister or wall to help you maintain your balance.
· Have someone else open doors, gates or other closed entries for you.
· Change direction by moving your feet, not your hips.
· Keep shoulders, hips and feet pointing the same direction.
· Never twist at the waist while carrying a load.
· Set the load down if it becomes too heavy or unstable.
Moving Carts, Hanging Loads
· Remember to push, not pull whenever possible.
· Position the load so that your legs supply the force.
· Use hands and arms for control and direction of the load.
· Keep hands and fingers inside the load whenever possible.
· Watch for pinch or shear points on carts, dollies or hoists.
Setting Loads Down
· Bend your knees, not your waist.
· Set down the corner or edge of the object closest to you first, keeping your fingers out from under the load.
When someone is helping you lift, teamwork becomes important. If you’re going to be carrying the load to another point, both of you should decide in advance how it is to be handled. Check the route and clearance. One person should be the leader and be in a position to observe and direct the other. Lifting and lowering should be done in unison. Don’t let the load drop suddenly without warning your partner.
Safe lifting, carrying and transporting techniques can help you avoid sprains, strains and other painful injuries at work. Whatever the task, make sure to ask for help when a load is too heavy for you to handle on your own!.
If you have any questions concerning lifting and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463.