Whether you're moving cross-country or just rearranging your living room, moving furniture is a heavyweight chore. Even if you have help it's a strain on your back, your legs and your arms—not to mention the damage you can do by lifting incorrectly. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that incorrectly living heavy items is a leading cause of workplace injuries. We've all heard the advice to lift with your knees, not with your back, but even using a back brace and proper lifting techniques may not protect you from injuries. Fortunately there are various tools to help lessen the load.
Straps are available in a variety of styles but all work off the same principle, which is that using leverage to lift heavy furniture is far less stressful on the body than just using brute strength. Straps usually require two people to use; they slip two long pieces of webbing beneath the heavy item, attach the webbing straps to their bodies and back up away from each other to lift. The straps may be attached to torso harnesses, slipped around forearms or just held. By carrying an object suspended from a strap you distribute the weight more evenly, lift the bulk of the weight using your biggest muscle groups and are enabled to carry a far heavier load than you would otherwise be able to move. Straps also make it easier to carry furniture up and down stairs or ramps.
If you just want to lift one corner of the furniture—to slide floor protectors under the feet, for example—use a furniture lifter. This device looks rather like a crowbar on wheels. It has a handle at one end, a wide spatula at the other, and low wheels at the bend near the spatula end. To use you simply roll the flat end under the furniture and pull back on the handle to raise the piece. There is a slightly more complicated version of the furniture lifter that makes moving heavy items even easier: the air lifter. This device slides under the piece the same way the manual lifter does, then blows out a cushion of air that will suspend the furniture above a smooth “track” you place beneath it. The air lifter makes it possible for almost anyone to move huge loads with minimal effort.
Also called hand trucks, dollies are probably the most recognisable furniture-lifting devices. A dolly is a tall metal framework with two handle grips at the top, two sturdy wheels on the bottom and a wide lip in front of the wheels. To use it you roll the dolly up to the furniture, slide the lip underneath until the framework is snugly against the piece and tip the whole assembly back so that the furniture is resting on the framework. There are also dollies with built-in hydraulic jacks to raise the lip and the furniture together, saving the operator from having to tip the whole load back too far. Most dollies are also fitted with a strap so that bulky or stacked items won't fall off the framework.
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