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Workplace health & safety lifting

Updated April 17, 2017

Incorrectly lifting a heavy load can cause lasting damage, including back and neck pain. Knowing how to lift these items correctly will minimise the risk of injury, and help you avoid ongoing health issues. These procedures apply not only to the workplace, but at home as well.

Dangers

Manual handling is not limited to the workplace. Injury can also occur at home, through something as simple as lifting a child or carrying out a simple do-it-yourself task. The item lifted does not even have to be heavy; awkwardly shaped items also carry the risk of injury if lifted incorrectly.

Effects

There are a number of lasting effects if a load is lifted incorrectly. A common result is back pain, particularly risky when lifting very heavy or unstable loads. Abdominal straining can also cause a hernia, which may need surgery to correct. Arm, shoulder, neck and wrist pain is also a risk when lifting improperly.

Damage can also be caused to your career by lasting health issues as a result of improper lifting. You may be unable to carry out your job effectively, meaning that you are less productive. This may be frowned upon by employers.

Law

The law is very clear to employers regarding the regulation of the health and safety of their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 requires all companies to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If they are found to be negligent in this regard, the company leaves itself vulnerable to compensation claims and damage to its reputation.

Safely Lifting

Back pain arises when lifting improperly because the main stresses should instead be taken by the legs. To safely lift an object, stand slightly behind it with your feet either side. Bend your knees while keeping your back straight, and grip the object firmly. Stand up by straightening your knees, avoiding using your back.

If heavy items can be broken down into a number of lighter items, this should be done to further prevent the risk of injury.

Prevention/Solution

Knowing how to safely lift a load is a person's greatest weapon against the painful repercussions of incorrect lifting. This can be achieved through personal research or through workplace training, teaching staff how to lift correctly.

Everyone should be made aware of the risks and repercussions of improper lifting, and in doing so they will be able to avoid the risk of this happening whenever the hazard presents itself.

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About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.