If you lift an object incorrectly, you’re likely to suffer for it later. Common torments include back injuries, lower back pain, sore arms, painful shoulders and tight hips. Health and safety consultants point out that the problem can last a few hours or even days, but often it leads to chronic injury that needs ongoing treatment.
Knowing the right way to lift an object is essential at home, in the office, on a construction site or the factory floor. Follow these eight tips and you’ll save yourself pain, injury and treatments costs.
Tip #1: Do a Mental Run-Through Before Lifting
A little planning makes the lifting safer. Step back and take a look at what you are going to lift and its surroundings. If necessary, move clutter to make a clear pathway. Visualize the process of picking it up, holding it and moving it along a path to its destination. This lets you mentally identify hazards and roadblocks.
The closer the object is to your body, the more stable you will stay during the lift. A person also has more power if the object stays near the body. You lose strength if you have to hold your arms out, especially when lifting a heavy object.
Grab it or clasp it firmly with both hands and arms. Aim for balance, especially if it is bulky and cumbersome.
Tip #3: Keep Your Feet Apart the Width of Your Shoulders
This is a rule of thumb when you lift any object, say health and safety consultants. It puts you in the most stable and balanced position, which is also the safest. If your feet are right next to each other, you won’t have a solid base. If they are too wide, you can’t walk easily. Be sure to use short steps when you are carrying an object.
Tip #4: Back Straight, Knees Bent
Move up and down by bending your knees, not your spine. This is where visualizing pays off. See yourself in your mind’s eye lowering your body, picking up the object and raising yourself up again. This will make it easier to maintain proper form during the actual lift. Your back will love you for it!
Tip #5: Use Your Abs
You don’t need a set of washboard abs. Use what you have for stability by tightening your stomach muscles. This helps you hold your back straight during the lift. It also prevents injury to the spine by keeping it strong and stable.
Tip #6: The Power is in Your Legs
Most of the lift should be powered by your leg muscles, which are many times stronger than those in your back. One trick is to look upwards during the lift, resulting in a straighter back.
Tip #7: Don’t Strain
If you find that your legs are wobbly or your back hurts, this is a message from your body that you need to get help with the lift. Do not proceed by yourself. You are simply setting yourself up for injury. There’s a good chance you’ll drop the object too. If the item is cumbersome or bulky, it is always a good idea to have help moving it.
Tip #8: Use Support
A belt made to provide back support can help you avoid injury. It provides extra bracing to keep your back straight, helping you maintain the best posture for safe lifting.
Health and safety consultants point out that most back injuries caused by poor lifting form can be prevented. Practice safe lifting on small objects. Always think and plan any lift that involves heavy objects or awkwardly shaped goods. You will save yourself pain and time at the doctor’s office!
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