Safe Lifting – Protect Your Back

Lifting is very much a part of our everyday lives at work and even at home. Certain jobs require some of us to lift more than others, but can you think of even one occupation where you never have to lift? Everything from construction to clerical work has some type of lifting task. Back and lifting injuries are a leading cause of missed work days, and these injuries can linger for a long time. 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.  In most cases, we only think about safe lifting until our backs, legs, or abdomen start to hurt, then we have a problem.  Prevention and planning are perfect solutions to reduce hazards in the workplace. With proper safety training and the use of safe lifting techniques, you and your co-workers should be able to reduce the risk of back and lifting injuries. 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.  Is the load too heavy for one person?
· Consider the size and/or shape of the load. Do they create any additional challenges?
· Find out if the route you will take with the load is clear of obstructions, slips, trips or fall hazards.
· If you are required to wear a back support belt, make sure it’s on and you are wearing it properly.
Safe Lifting
When lifting a load from ground level:
· Get as close as possible to the load and bend your knees, not your back.
· Get a good grip on the object and 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.
· 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 and gates.
· 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.
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.
Tips To Remember
· Remember to push, not pull whenever possible when using a cart.
· Watch for pinch or shear points on carts, dollies or hoists.
· Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.  At the end of the day, it’s your back.
· 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 and at home.

If you have any questions any information found in this posting, please contact the LL Roberts Group or our Safety Division, Roberts Risk Management (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter! 
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