Weekly Safety Tip: Musculoskeletal Disorders—Safe Lifting

Before you lift something, ask yourself these questions:

  • How heavy is the load?
  • Will it be awkward to control?
  • Should I ask for help?
  • Can it be moved mechanically with available equipment?
  • Is it in an accessible position?
  • Does it have sharp edges?
  • Will it be slippery or awkward to lift?
  • Do I need gloves or other protection?
  • Is the new location accessible and ready to accept the item?
  • Is my pathway clear?
  • Will I be able to see where I am going?
  • Is there a safe way to grip the load?

Lift correctly:

  • Your footing is a very important part of lifting. Your feet must be:
  • Close to the object.
  • Shoulder-width apart for good balance.
  • One foot slightly ahead of the other to help keep your center of gravity under control.
  • Bend your knees and go down to a crouch—not to a full squat. Standing up from a full squat takes twice as much effort as standing from a crouch.
  • Keep your back as straight and vertical as possible.
  • Get a good, firm grip. Do not lift until your hold is strong and slip-proof.
  • Lift by straightening your legs. Keep the load close to your body.
  • If you have to change direction, do not twist your body; move your feet as you turn.
  • When setting the load down:
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Bend your knees just as you did when you lifted the object.

Be extra careful if you have not lifted recently:

Muscles can weaken and tighten while you are away on weekends, vacations, or sick-days, so use extra caution when returning to work. Physical condition, muscle stretching, and toning are important steps before lifting begins each day.

Do not risk injuring your back; move the load mechanically or ask someone to help you.