All employees must use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury when lifting heavy objects. In general, employees should seek assistance when lifting objects that weigh 50 pounds or more. Use your good judgment to determine if you need assistance, a dolly, back support belt, or other tool to safely lift an object.
The back supports the weight of the entire upper body. When you lift objects or move heavy loads, your back has to support even more weight. If you exceed your body's natural limits, your back cannot support both your body and the extra load. The excess, unsupported pressure is transferred to the lower back, where injury is imminent. By using the muscles in your arms and legs and exercising proper lifting techniques, you can move loads safely and protect your back from possible injury.
Follow these guidelines to help avoid back injuries:
- Avoid moving objects manually. Plan jobs and arrange work areas so that heavy items may be moved mechanically.
- Keep in good physical condition. If you are not used to lifting and vigorous exercise, do not attempt difficult lifting tasks.
- Think before you act. Use proper lifting techniques and lifting aides such as back support belts, dollies, etc. Seek assistance if you need it.
When lifting heavy objects, follow these steps and refer to the following illustration:
- Test the object's weight before handling it. If it seems too heavy or bulky, get assistance.
- Face the object, place one foot behind the object and one foot along its side.
- Squat down, bending your knees. Keep your back arched.
- Get a firm, balanced grip on the object. Use the palms of your hands, and use gloves if necessary.
- Keep the object as close to your body as possible. (Pull the load in close before lifting.)
- Lift by straightening your legs and slightly unbending your back.
- If the object is too heavy or bulky, get help.
- Do not twist the back or bend sideways.
- Do not perform awkward lifts.
- Do not lift objects at arm's length.
- When moving objects, proceed with caution through doors and around corners.
- Lower the object in the same proper, manner as lifting.
Revised May 2011
Reviewed November 2014