Research currently states that 1 in 5 injuries in the workplace relate to back injury, with incorrect lifting technique often being the cause.
Following a few simple guidelines when lifting will help reduce the load on the spine preventing long-term injury.
- Do keep your feet and knees at least shoulder-width apart; if the feet are too close together, the spine will be rounded and balancing the weight of the object will be difficult. Good posture will allow for the object to be lifted with proper support.
- Do bend the knees to squat down, keeping the back straight
- Do pull your belly button in to your spine to engage the core when lifting to help support and stabilise the lower back.
- Do use your leg muscles, such as the gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings to lift because they are stronger than your back muscles.
- Do hold the object at waist level, as close to your body as possible and equally on both sides to reduce strain on the spine.
- Don’t curve the spine to pick up an object. Use your legs.
- Don’t lift an object that is too heavy. Ask for help from others.
- Don’t load the spine by bending or twisting while holding an object.
- Don’t lift a heavy load above shoulder height, as it puts the body off balance and physically at a disadvantage
- Don’t try move a heavy object by kicking it or guiding it with legs. Often this will cause sprain and strain type injuries.
- Don’t carry an unbalanced load.
Keep in mind it is always better to use a dolly, a hand truck or the help of a co-worker to move an object. Remember your initial instinct that an object is too heavy or awkward to lift is usually correct. Never risk harming your spine but lifting a weight that is unbalanced, too heavy or too large!