Manual Lifting Tips

One of the biggest causes of back injury at work is lifting or handling objects incorrectly. Learning and following the correct method for lifting and handling heavy loads can help to prevent injury and avoid back pain. Check out these safe manual lifting tips, recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.

Moving lifting tips

Manual lifting tips: In all situations, protect your back

Picking up an object is something that we do every day. It can be a pen that we dropped, or indeed one of many boxes when you move house. Yet unless we understand what strain we really put on our back we are unlikely to give it much thought, until age or injury forces us to do it. We found this very good video from Muscle&Motion. It allows you to see the respective effects of picking up light or heavy objects on your skeleton and on your muscles. It illustrates perfectly bad and good techniques.

Manual lifting tips: Think before you lift

Plan the lift. Where is the load going to be placed? Use appropriate handling aids where possible. Will help be needed with the load? Remove obstructions, such as discarded wrapping materials. For long lifts, such as from floor to shoulder height, consider resting the load mid-way on a table or bench to change your grip on it.

Manual lifting tips: Keep the load close to the waist

Keep the load close to the waist for as long as possible while lifting. The distance of the load from the spine at waist height is an important factor in the overall load on the spine and back muscles. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body. If closely approaching the load isn’t possible, try to slide it towards the body before trying to lift it.

Manual lifting tips: Adopt a stable position

Your feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load if it’s on the ground). Be prepared to move your feet during the lift in order to maintain a stable posture. Wearing over-tight clothing or unsuitable footwear, such as heels or flip-flops, may make this difficult.

Manual lifting tips: Ensure a good hold on the load

Where possible, hug the load close to the body. This may be a better option than gripping it tightly with the hands only.

Manual lifting tips: Don’t bend your back when lifting

A slight bending of the back, hips and knees at the start of the lift is preferable to either fully flexing the back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees – in other words, fully squatting. Don’t flex the back any further while lifting This can happen if the legs begin to straighten before starting to raise the load. An American Moving company, Kearney, made a good video of the different techniques to lift different pieces. Although some of the furniture they handle are not packed, the process would be identical if they were, bar the drawer technique.