How to Lift, Carry Loads Safely

June 21, 2001
The Utah Safety Council recommends a number of tips to prevent\r\nunintentional injuries to keep your back strong and healthy.

Lifting and carrying are power jobs, whether at home or on the job.

Most of the time, back injuries occur as a result of lifting and carrying the wrong way.

Back injuries are the most common type of injury in the workplace, accounting for at least 440,000 disabling injuries in 1998.

Over half of these injuries are from lifting. In Utah, back injuries account for approximately 28 percent of industrial injuries.

Whether you are lifting at home or at work, make an effort to take care of your back.

The Utah Safety Council recommends a number of tips to prevent unintentional injuries to keep your back strong and healthy.

Power warm-ups: You will work better if you start each day with slow stretches. These warm-ups let you ease comfortably into your workday and help you avoid injuries.

Leg and back warm-ups: Prop one foot on a chair or a stool for support. Take a deep breath. Ease forward slowly -- keep your back slightly curved. Blow slowly outward as you ease forward slowly -- keep your back slightly curved. Blow slowly outward as you ease forward to a seven count. Repeat seven times. Switch and do the same with the other foot.

Backbend: Stand with your feet about 12 inches apart. Support the small of your back with your hands. Hold your stomach in firmly and take a deep breath. Arch backward -- bend your head and neck as you go, blowing air slowly out for seven counts. Repeat seven times.

Power lifting tips: Protect your hands and feet by wearing safety gear. Size up the load -- tip it on its side to see if you can carry it comfortably. Get help if the load is too big or bulky for one person. Check for nails, splinters, rough strapping and sharp edges. Lift it right -- make sure your footing is solid. Keep your head upand your back straight, with no curving or slouching. Center your body over your feet, get a good grip on the object and pull it close to you. Pull your stomach in firmly. Lift with your legs, not your back; if you need to turn, move your feet and don''t twist your back.

Tough lifting jobs: Oversized loads -- do not try to carry a big load alone; ask for help. Work as a team by lifting, walking and lowering the load together. Let one person call the shots and direct the lift. Use proper mechanical devices for heavy loads. High loads -- use a step stool or a sturdy ladder to reach loads that are above your shoulders. Get as close to the load as you can and slide the load toward you. Do all the work with your arms and legs, not your back. Low loads -- loads that are under racks and cabinets need extra care. Pull the load toward you, then try to support in on one knee before you lift. Use your legs to power the lift. Always use your stomach as a low back support by pulling it in during lifting. Remember, a strong, healthy, powerful back is vital to your job.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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