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Principles of Safe Lifting

Tips for safely lifting heavy object at work or at home from Chester County Hospital in West Chester, PA.

Heave! Ho! OUCH!!!!

Improper lifting of heavy objects is one of the leading causes of workplace and home injuries. Herking and jerking of heavy boxes, bags, containers, logs and more send people to the Chester County Hospital Emergency room every day; for others, they are the beginning of a chronic pain that can cause misery for years.

Improper lifting can easily lead to an injury to the back, neck, shoulders, arms and hips. These injuries can be in the form of pulled or torn muscles, slipped discs or joint dislocation. A dangerous lift can also lead to a bad slip and fall or a serious cut or bruise.

If you must lift at home or on the job, use the following steps to stay safe: 

  1. Plan the lift. Wear proper shoes to avoid slips, trips or falls. Test the load for stability and weight. Lift only as much as you can safely handle by yourself. 
  2. Make it easy on yourself. Whenever possible, use equipment to reduce the weight. Or seek out assistance from a co-worker or family member. 
  3. Stretch before you lift.
  4. Face the load.
  5. Stand close to the load.
  6. Place the feet securely.
  7. Get a secure grip; use both hands whenever possible.
  8. Lift with your legs and NOT with your upper body or back.
  9. Avoid jerking by using smooth, even motions.
  10. Lift to an upright posture.
  11. DO NOT twist your body. Step to one side or the other to turn.

You should avoid lifting from the floor whenever possible. If you must lift from the floor, do not bend at the waist. Instead, squat or kneel down next to the object, keep the load close to your body and lift by pushing up with your legs. This keeps the spine in a safer position while lifting from the floor. 

When lifting heavier, harder-to-handle objects, try these steps: 

  1. Kneel on one leg before the item; then lean it onto your kneeling leg (the one touching the floor).
  2. Slide the item up onto the thigh of your kneeling leg.
  3. Gradually slide the item up and over to the other leg's thigh, holding it close to your body.
  4. Slowly stand while continuing to hold the item close to your body.

Heavy Lifting Don'ts:

  • Don't twist your body while lifting.
  • Don't lift from the side. Keep the load squarely in front of you.
  • Don't drop your end of the load when lifting.
  • Don't hold your breath while lifting and carrying. You may pass out.
  • Don't heave items over your shoulder or lift above your head.
  • Don't wear restrictive clothing.
  • Don't lift beyond your personal limit.


Related Information from Chester County Hospital:

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Chester County Hospital's Health e-Living Blog offers a regular serving of useful health and lifestyle information for the residents of Chester County, PA and the surrounding region.

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