Lift Safely

You only have an hour left to work and there is still a truckload of boxes
needing to be loaded. Determined to meet the deadline, you pick up the pace,
lean over to lift a large package without bending your knees, and suddenly you
feel a surge of pain up your back. You've just joined the thousands of workers
who are injured or even permanently disabled by back injuries each year.

It is probably fair to say that every worker who lifts or does other manual
handling tasks is at some risk for musculoskeletal injury. The number and the
severity of injuries can be greatly reduced by preparing and planning for the
lift, and practicing safe lifting and handling techniques.

Before: plan and prepare

Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight clothing that is flexible but that won't
easily tear, avoiding exposed buttons, zippers or loose flaps that could get
caught in the load. Protect your hands and feet by wearing safety boots with
toe caps and slip-resistant soles; and protective gloves, appropriate for the
materials being handled.

Plan your lift.

Make sure that the path to where you are taking the load is clear of obstacles
and debris - such as grease, oil, water, and litter - that can cause you to
slip and fall. Remove anything that is in the way.

Warm up your muscles

with gentle stretches to prepare them for the physical stress of the lift and
other handling tasks. This is an especially important step for workers who only
lift occasionally and may not be accustomed to handling loads.

Test the load

for shifting contents and weight by pulling or sliding it toward you. Determine
if you can lift it without overexerting yourself. A big load of the same weight
will put more strain on your body than a small load. Do not lift if you are not
sure that you can handle the load safely. Get help with heavy or awkward loads,
or when possible use equipment such as hoists, lift trucks dollies or

Tips for the lift

Specific handling and lifting techniques are needed for different kinds of
loads or materials being handled (for example, compact loads, small bags, large
sacks, drums and barrels, cylinders, sheet materials like drywall). There is no
single correct way to lift because lifting can always be done in several ways.
Because of this, on-site, task-specific training is essential. There are some
general lifting rules to follow:

  • Stand close to the load facing the direction that you'll be moving.

  • Place your feet wide apart to keep your balance.

  • Get and keep a good grip on the load using both your hands - not just your fingers. Grasp opposite corners and balance your load evenly between both arms.

  • As you lift keep your back as straight as is comfortable, tightening your abdominal (stomach) muscles.

  • Bend your legs so they do the lifting.

  • Lift the load smoothly, without jerking, keeping it as close to your body as possible.

  • Keep the load in the middle, between shoulder and knee height.

  • Avoid twisting and side bending while lifting. Step or pivot, turning your whole body.

  • Plan where to set the load down, ideally on a raised platform that won't require you to bend down with the weight of the load. Avoid placing loads directly on the floor.

It is also important to take advantage of rest periods to relax tired muscles
and recover your strength between lifts to be able to work safely. Switch
between heavy loads and lighter ones. Rest more often when it is hot and humid
and when it is cold, and take more time to warm up your muscles.

Proper lifting and handling methods can protect you from getting injured. Learn
to think before you bend to pick up an object and eventually safe lifting
techniques will become good habits.

More information: - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety