Raising the Bar on Proper Lifting Techniques

Raising the Bar on Proper Lifting Techniques

Whether it's an occasional part of your job or an everyday venture, it's vital to use proper lifting techniques. Incorrect lifting techniques for extended periods can lead to a laundry list of injuries that can put a huge strain on your profits.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, overexertion was the leading event or exposure leading to injury or illness in the workplace. It accounted for a staggering 34% of all workplace illnesses or injuries. At the same time, the BLS reported the back was the main body part affected, representing a surprising 18.2% of cases.

While no method has proven to eliminate all back injuries, a significant portion of them could be mitigated by reinforcing the importance of using proper lifting techniques with an effective safety program of control. Continue reading to learn more about proper lifting techniques and OSHA safe lifting controls.

What Are the Proper Lifting Techniques?

Before lifting any type of heavy object, it's best to take a second to consider what you're about to do. Examine the object for any slippery spots, sharp corners, or other potential hazards. Make sure you know your personal limits and do not attempt to exceed it.

If you need help, always ask. On the other hand, you can always divide your load to make it lighter. Before you get started, know where you will set the item down and ensure you path is free of obstacles.

  1. Get started by standing near the load with your feet spread apart the width of your shoulders. For additional balance, one of your feet should be slightly in front of the other.

  2. Do not bend at your waist. Its best to squat down at your knees. As you do, keep your back as straight as possible, while tucking your chin.

  3. Before starting the lift, make sure you have a firm grip on the object.

  4. Start lifting slowly by straightening your legs. It's important to never twist or contort your body during this step.

  5. After the lift is complete, make sure the object is as close to your body as possible. Keep the load's center of gravity near your body. If it starts to move away, it will cause a significant increase in stress on the lumbar part of your back.

In the event you are required to turn while lifting, do not use your torso. Instead, you should use your feet.

Safe Lifting Techniques & Tips

It's important to understand that no number of proper lifting techniques will apply to every situation. However, these safe lifting techniques can help you avoid common back injuries. When lifting any object, make sure to:

  • Avoid bending at your waist. Always bend at your knees.
  • Start by sizing up the load. If you are unable to do it alone, just ask for help.
  • Maintain a firm footing. Make sure your shoes offer sufficient support and remember to keep your feet approximately shoulder-width apart.
  • When changing directions, move your feet. Avoid twisting your upper body when carrying a load.
  • Since your leg muscles are more durable and stronger than you back muscles, let your legs handle the load.
  • Use work gloves for a firmer grip. Carry and lift the object close to your waist and keep it close to your body.
  • Find the path of least resistance. Map your route and remove any possible hazards or obstacles.

OSHA Safe Lifting Controls

To further reduce the likelihood of lifting injuries, OSHA has evaluated several ways to prevent them with two different types of controls: engineering and administrative controls.

Engineering Controls for Safe Lifting

Engineering controls are highly effective ways of designing a workspace to minimize hazards associated with lifting. A few common engineering controls are:

  • Altering the height of the load being relocated.
  • Redistributing the weight and/or stability of the object. This type of engineering control makes the load easier to lift by incorporating baskets and handles.
  • Installing pneumatic lifts, automated material handling equipment, and conveyors.

Administrative Controls for Safe Lifting

Administrative controls include practices such as training and choosing workers so they're able to safely complete their jobs. A few suggested administrative controls are:

  • Training your workforce to always use proper lifting techniques.
  • Stretching and physical conditioning programs to minimize the risk of muscle strain.
  • Conducting strength testing of workforce can reduce up to ⅓ of work-related injuries. Employers can use this program as a way to discourage workers from performing tasks that exceed their abilities.

Contact Premier Safety Partners

Proper lifting techniques can be an integral force in preventing downtime caused by back injuries that are completely avoidable. By taking a few precautionary steps and encouraging practice, these methods may effectively prevent both off and on the job back injuries. While no approach will completely eradicate back injuries, incorporating controls and encouraging proper lifting techniques is an excellent way to prevent them from happening.

Contact Premier Safety Partners today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Scott Ray is an industry leader in Health and Safety. Recognized for his business acumen and innovative approach, Scott has a track record in successfully implementing H&S systems that result in fostering a culture of operational excellence. His 25 year Health and Safety career includes both technical and leadership experience within diverse industries including energy/utilities, manufacturing, higher education, construction, defense and aerospace.