Back Safety Requires Safe Lifting 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1 million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. One of the most important ways to prevent back pain and injury is to follow safe lifting procedures.

Teach your employees these basic steps for safe lifting and handling:

  1. Size up the load and check overall conditions.  Don’t attempt the lift by yourself if the load appears to be too heavy or awkward. Check that there is enough space for movement and that your footing is good. Good housekeeping will ensure that you won’t trip or stumble over an obstacle.
  2. Make certain that your balance is good. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, with one foot beside and the other foot behind the object that is to be lifted.
  3. Bend your knees; don’t stoop. Keep your back straight, but not vertical.
  4. Grip the load with the palms of your hands and your fingers. The palm grip is much more secure.
  5. Use your body weight to start the load moving, then lift by pushing up with the legs.  This makes full use of your strongest set of muscles.
  6. Keep your arms and elbows close to your body while lifting.
  7. Carry the load close to your body.  Don’t twist your body while carrying the load. Watch where you are going.
  8. To lower the object, bend your knees. Don’t stoop. To deposit the load on a bench or shelf, place it on the edge and push it into position. Make sure your hands and feet are clear when placing the load.

Tips for Team Lifts

 If the weight, shape and/or size of an object make the job too much for one person, ask for help. Ideally, workers should be of approximately the same size for team lifting. One individual needs to be responsible for control of the action to ensure proper coordination. If one worker lifts too soon, shifts the load or lowers it improperly, either that person or the individual working with him or her may be injured.

Safe lifting of heavy items requires training and practice. It’s not unusual to see a small person move heavy loads with apparent ease. The secret lies in taking the proper stance and grip. Also, when equipment is available, it should be used to move heavy objects.