Construction work involves a great deal of manual lifting, so it is important to know the steps and techniques involved in proper lifting to reduce your chances of an injury. Back, neck, and shoulder injuries are a few of the most common injuries in the construction industry. Over half of these back-related injuries are caused by body reaction and exertion which includes improper lifting.
Check out these guidelines for proper manual lifting:
Considerations for Manual Handling
- If possible, use mechanical means such as a forklift or dolly instead of manual handling.
- Know your capabilities—only lift objects you know you can handle.
- Identify a clear walkway to the destination that has good lighting.
- When possible, establish the weight of the load before lifting and get help with items weighing more than 50 pounds.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands against cuts and punctures.
- Wear safety boots to protect your feet from falling or dropped objects.
- Carry out a trial lift by rocking the load from side to side then try lifting it slightly to get a “feel” for it.
Good Handling Technique
- Stand close to the load, feet shoulder-width apart, one foot slightly forward, pointing in the direction you are going.
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
- Get a secure grip on the load.
- Breathe in before lifting, as this helps to support the spine.
- Use a good lifting technique, keep your back straight, and lift using only your legs.
- Keep the load close to your body.
- Do not carry a load that obscures your vision.
- Lift the load slowly and smoothly.
- Avoid jerky movements.
- Avoid twisting your body while lifting or carrying a load.
- When lifting to a height from the floor, do it in two stages.
- When two or more people lift a load, one person must take control to coordinate the lift.
Always stop and think before bending to pick up an object and—over time—safe lifting techniques should become a habit.