In a large facilities department such as ours, lifting is very much a part of our everyday jobs. But because it is something we do so often throughout the day, we tend to do it in auto-mode, without thinking first about proper technique. Lifting incorrectly can result in a variety of injuries, with back strain being the most common. Using proper lifting techniques can save you today, as well as years down the road.
Extended Safety Message:
- Size up the load. Look it over, decide if you can handle it alone or if you will need help. When in doubt, ask for help. Moving an object that is too heavy for one person to lift safely is not worth strained and sore back muscles.
- Size up the area. Check the surroundings in which you will be handling the object. Make sure the area is clear of obstructions if you must carry the object any distance.
- Get a good grip. While lifting and carrying an object it becomes an extension of your 2-safe lifting techniques body. You support and move the object. Your grip has to be firm and sure.
- Position your feet to set a good foundation. Good foot position allows you to keep your balance and use your powerful leg muscles. The larger muscles of your legs are much more powerful and durable than your relatively weaker back muscles. Let your leg muscles do the majority of the work — they can handle it.
- Keep the load close to your body. Think of your arms and the load as a pry bar. The further the load is from your body, the longer the bar and the more force it will place on your back. By keeping the load close to your body, you reduce the amount of stress placed on your lower back.
- Avoid twisting your upper body. Twisting compounds the stresses and forces of lifting and carrying an object. It affects your center of balance. Once you have established a good foundation with your feet, use them to change direction. This technique is especially important when moving an object a short distance, like from the floor to a conveyor line.
- Practice team lifting. Teamwork is critical when someone is helping you lift and carry a load. Both of you should discuss and decide, in advance, how you’re going to handle the load. Decide and check your route – make sure there are no obstructions. The person in the position to observe and direct the other should be the leader. Lifting, carrying, and lowering should be done in unison. Communicate with your lifting partner; let him or her know what’s happening. If you feel that your grip is slipping, warn your partner. Don’t let the load drop suddenly without warning your partner.
- Stand close to the load, with feet shoulder width apart and firmly on the floor.
- Bend at the hips and knees and squat close to the load; keep your back straight.
- Grip the load firmly with both hands, not just your fingers.
- Bring the load close to your body, keeping your weight centered over your feet.
- Stand slowly with your back straight and let your legs push you up.
- Be sure you have a good grip and can see where you’re going.
- Walk slowly, taking small steps.
- Stop along the way to rest if you need it.
- Move your feet to turn direction.
- Move at a steady pace.
- For more information go to osha.gov