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Safe Lifting



Every day we lift, lower, carry and handle materials at work and at home.  It is important to recognize and remember basic points to lift and handle materials safely.

The three main ergonomic principles to avoid low back injuries are:

  • Avoid rounding the lower back as much as possible.
  • Keep objects as close to the body as possible
  • Avoid twisting


Plan your lift : as with most things in life, before we begin to lift, we need a plan. Basic points to include are:

  • Know the load (what are we lifting/moving)
  • Position of the load (where are we taking it)
  • The route (we will be taking) and obstacles that may be in our path.

Size up the load: Once we have planned our lift, we need to size up the load to be moved.  How heavy or  awkward is the load to be moved?  Can we safely move it ourselves or will we need help?  Are material handling aids readily   available?  Examples would be a dolly, hoist or lifting device.  Have we been trained and know how to use the material handling aids?


Use the large muscles of your body:   There is an old phrase that says, "lift with your knees."  It is important to remember to avoid rounding the lower back when lifting.  the large muscles in our legs are stronger and more powerful than the weaker muscles in our back.  We need to keep our back in a neutral alignment (or straight as possible) when lifting from a low position.  Think of how a weightlifter uses their strong leg muscles to lift.


Keep the load close: Have you ever noticed the further away we hold an object, the heavier it tends to become? When carrying or moving an object, keep the load as close to the body as possible.  This reduces stresses and strains that act on our low back, muscles and bones.


Avoid Twisting: When lifting or carrying a load, always avoid twisting.  Twisting puts a strain on our back muscles similar to when a corkscrew turns and results in pressure down on a cork.  Turn the feet in the direction you want to go to eliminate twisting.

Get help when you need it: It is better to get help than to be injured.  If you feel that you are unable to lift or carry any material on your own, ASK FOR HELP.   Many lifting related injuries could be avoided if staff had only asked for help.   If there is no one available to help you......wait, or notify your supervisor  immediately.  Do not attempt to move the load yourself if you are unsure  whether you can safely move it.  

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