Heavy lifting ranks among the top causes of workplace injuries. For some people, lifting heavy objects come with the job description. If this is the case for you, knowing how to lift safely can make all the difference in your personal health and the longevity of your career in that field.
According to West Virginia University, safe lifting falls into four main steps. Treat each one as equally important.
Before lifting the load, you may need to ask yourself or your colleagues some important questions:
- Does the area have adequate lighting?
- Does the load have proper handholds for you to carry it easily?
- How much does the item weigh?
- How far do you need to take the load?
The actual lifting stage requires some safety precautions. The university recommends only lifting loads of 50 lbs or less. If you find the load exceeds 50 lbs or your strength, ask for help. It also recommends getting as close to the load as possible, when lifting, and bending at the knees instead of lifting with the back.
Avoid the urge to twist your body when carrying the load. Instead, when you need to turn, turn the whole body, using your feet. If you begin to feel tired, set the load down and start again when you feel able to do so safely.
When putting the load down, remember the steps you used to pick it up and do them in the reserve order. Lower yourself and the item using the knees, not the hips. Wait until you feel certain you have the load down properly to release it. Try not to twist your body when setting it down.
Even with the best precautions, you may still suffer injuries while lifting heavy objects. If you have pre-existing conditions and as you get older, the risk increases.