Lift Safe and Prevent Back Injuries
Back injuries are one of the biggest causes of disability for American workers. Over 600,000 suffer back injuries each year. Many, if not all, of those injuries can be avoided by simply practicing safe lifting techniques.
Not only can proper lifting techniques help prevent injuries, they can also make your job easier. Here are a few things to remember when you're lifting or carrying objects:
- Assess the load you're lifting. Don't try to lift objects that are too heavy or awkward. Ask your co-workers for help and use a dolly or cart if you need to.
- Get close to the load you're lifting and place your feet shoulder-width apart for balance and stability. One foot should be beside the object, the other should be behind the object you're lifting.
- Bend at the knees. Never lift with your back! Keep your back straight and your chin tucked into your chest.
- Grip the load with your palm and fingers, making sure your chin is tucked and your back is straight.
- Use your body weight to start moving the load, then lift with your legs. Your leg muscles are the strongest muscles in your body. Put them to use when you lift.
- Keep your arms and elbows close to your body when you lift.
- Carry the load close to your body. Don't twist your body while carrying the load. If you have to change direction, shift the position of your feet and turn your whole body.
- Watch where you're going! Make sure the route you're taking is free of debris and obstacles.
- Bend your knees to lower the object you're carrying. Don't bend over to put it down. That puts unnecessary strain on your back.
- Don't lift objects over your shoulders. Place them on lower shelves.
- If you're putting the load on a shelf, place it on the edge of the shelf and push it into position.
- If you're using a dolly or cart to transport objects, push the load instead of pulling it. It's much easier on your back. If you have to pull the load, keep it at your side to avoid extending your arms and arching your lower back.
Make these techniques a habit even when you're lifting lighter objects. Your back will thank you for it! We have a complete line of Ergonomic products and ergonomic-related reminder signs to help you and your colleagues work safe. Give our Technical Support Reps a call at 800-631-1246 if you have questions. They're here to help and give you the information you need to make decisions about what products are right for you and your workplace.
Sources: OSHA, Brookhaven National Laboratory