Man and woman lifting boxes

Safe lifting guidelines

Stay safe with nine simple lifting tips

In any workplace, boxes, packages, and crates have to be moved from place to place. All that lifting can mean a strain on your back—if you’re not careful. Most back injuries are preventable if you follow some simple guidelines. To help, we’ve laid some of the most common out for you:

  • Stay in good shape and always warm up. Well-conditioned, properly warmed-up muscles—especially abdominals—help support your back when you lift.
  • Avoid twisting, move gradually. Twisting, jerking, rapid motions increase muscle stress. Lift slowly and carefully.
  • Plan your route. Choose a clear path to avoid slip, trip, and fall hazards.
  • Keep surroundings safe. Before lifting, make sure all debris and hazards are removed. Keep the floor clean and make sure it provides good traction.
  • Use a stable method of reaching higher shelves. Rolling ladders and mechanical aids can help prevent unsafe body positions and stretches.
  • Lift items comfortably. The safe lift zone is between your knees and shoulders. The key is to keep the load’s center of gravity close to your body, balancing the weight between both arms. Don’t forget to bend your knees and lift with your legs—not your back.
  • Get help with larger items. Lift only what you can handle. Get help if you need it, or use mechanical aids made to handle heavy loads.
  • Make logical storage arrangements. Store frequently handled items on shelves at waist level and keep heavier items on pallets at floor level.
  • Pace your work. Repetitive lifting can cause muscle fatigue and injury. Never overexert your muscles by lifting repeatedly. Take a break to regain your strength.

By following these safety guidelines, you’ll be better able to avoid back injuries while lifting. Be sure to talk to your Safety Services specialist for more on these and other helpful tips to keep your workplace safe.

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