Improper lifting of heavy objects can result in back injury. Office workers who wish to avoid injury from strain or overexertion need to practice basic safety procedures so they can safely lift and carry heavy objects. While no activity is risk-free, with proper planning and procedure, you can significantly reduce your risk of injury from heavy lifting.
Evaluate the Object Before Lifting
Perhaps the most important task when lifting and carrying heavy objects takes place before you pick anything up. Before you lift an object, evaluate how heavy it is. If you are unsure, try to tilt it on its side to see if you can easily move it. Determine if you can safely lift it alone, or if you will need assistance. Make sure the object can be gripped easily; irregularly shaped objects may require handles or straps for safe lifting.
Determine How to Lift the Object
Once you have decided the load can be safely lifted, determine how best to approach the object. If the item is on a shelf above your head, use a ladder to reach the object rather than reaching up above your head. If the object is on the ground, stand facing the item and straddle it. Bend with your legs to reach the object and lift. Never lift from a seated position.
Never be afraid to ask for help lifting a heavy object. It is safer to lift an object with a partner or by using a dolly, forklift or cart than to carry a too-heavy object by yourself. When working with another person, choose one person to direct the lifting and carrying. If using a dolly or forklift, secure the item in place and push -- don't pull -- the object to its destination.
Prepare Your Path
Whether you are carrying an object alone, with a partner or using a cart for assistance, it is important to prepare the path before you begin. Make sure you have enough room around the object to safely lift it. Determine what path to take when carrying the object and ensure there is enough clearance to get through. Remove any hazards like loose cables for wires before you proceed.
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- Texas A & M University; Office of Engineering Safety; Safe Lifting Techniques to Prevent Injury; FAQ
- U.S. Department of Commerce; Workplace Safety; Office Safety
- Brookhaven National Laboratory: Safe Lifting and Carrying Techniques
- Virginia Commonwealth University; Office of Environmental Health & Safety; Back Safety & Lifting Techniques