Safety 24/7 Tip: The Must-Know Secrets to Lift More with Less Stress and No Injury
Indiana is known for cold, harsh winters. It was the end of that type of winter about 20 years ago, when suddenly visions of early spring appeared with delightfully sunny days. With what was the first beautiful weekend in months, you just wanted to get out in the yard and do something. My next door neighbor and I decided we would do a bit of spring yard work. We rented a pickup truck and collected dead limbs that had fallen during the winter; we pruned away dead tree branches, cleaned out the garages and heaved all that stuff on the back of the pickup for a one-way trip to the dump. Well…about three days later, my back began to let me know that I didn’t do proper lifting!
Most of us forget the importance of our backs for the enjoyment of a normal, happy and successful life. However, the back contains one of the most critical muscle groups in the body, as well as the spinal cord and associated vertebrae and disks. Everyone working in the building industry or any industry for that matter, must lift materials to either put them into place or to expedite from one location to another. Back injuries are cumulative; a lot of small injuries lead up to the big one. It is, therefore, important to remember the key elements of proper lifting.
Preparing to Lift
- Do you need help? Get help if needed (more people, lift equipment).
- Do you need to stretch before preparing to lift?
- Determine the load capacity.
- Determine your ability to handle the load.
- Wear safe shoes.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands if the surface is rough.
- Make sure you have a clear walkway.
Making the Lift
- Center the load between your legs or shoulders
- Always bend with your legs.
- Keep your back straight.
- Lift with your legs (You can feel your leg muscles doing the work).
- Keep the load close to your body. (Hug the object you are lifting.)
Moving the Load
- Keep your back as vertical as possible.
- Keep the load close to you.
- Don’t twist your body – move your feet.
- When lowering your load, bend with the knees and keep the back straight.
- Remember to follow these rules of lifting and you will give your back a break rather than breaking your back.
Remember: The only thing you’ll prove by lifting more than you should is that your back is a poor substitute for a forklift. Think before you lift—every time.
(Article adapted from OSHA’s ToolBox Talks.)