Proper lifting technique and appropriate planning is critical to back safety and preventing lifting injuries. Before you lift that box, tool or piece of equipment consider the following:
- Examine the object for sharp corners, slippery spots or other potential hazards.
- Know your limit and do not try to exceed it.
- Ask for help if needed.
- If possible, divide the load to make it lighter.
- Know where you are going to set the item down and make sure the destination and your path are free of obstructions.
Poor lifting technique can cause both acute injury and serious chronic effects. Learning the right way to lift will help you avoid these problems.
- Do not attempt to lift by bending forward.
- Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.
- Never lift a heavy object above shoulder level.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly ahead of the other (think karate stance).
- Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your back in good lifting position, thereby creating your own internal support.
- Lift slowly with your legs. Squat down, keep your back straight, and bend at the hips and knees only.
- Hold and lift the object as close to your body as possible at the level of your belly button. Maintain a firm hold on the object you are lifting.
- Take short steps.
- Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.
Consider using mechanical help wherever possible. Oftentimes the item you are moving can be moved with a dolly, hand truck or forklift. If the item needs to be moved manually and it is heavy or awkward in shape, ask for help or make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.