Unsafe lifting leads to thousands of injuries every year. While these injuries are rarely fatal, many result in time away from work and chronic pain. The good news is many of these accidents can be avoided by practicing safe lifting habits and using proper lifting aids and tools.

The proper safe lifting method

• Check the route you will take while carrying the heavy item.

• Stretch your lifting muscles, and test the load to make sure you're warmed up and the load isn't too heavy.

• Squat over the object and lift with your legs, keeping your spine straight or slightly arched.

• Keep your head straight, and shoulders in line with your feet.

• Lift as smoothly as possible in one fluid motion.

• Hold the load in your "power zone" (between mid-thigh and mid-chest).

• Carry the load with your head upright, looking out for obstacles and other employees.

• Use the same position to put down a heavy load. Watch fingers and feet when unloading.

Alternatives to lifting

• A fork truck is a useful alternative to lifting that doesn't require any physical lifting.

› NEVER operate a fork truck unless you've been properly trained.

• Hand trucks are useful for heavy or awkward loads.

› When using a hand truck, put the heaviest object on the bottom.

› "Push" the truck downhill and "pull" it uphill.

› Make sure you can see over it.

• Other lifting aids include ladders and handles.

• Ask another staffer for help lifting and carrying the load.

Lifting equipment

• Using PPE when lifting can make the task easier and safer. Lifting PPE includes:

› Gloves that provide better grip and protect your fingers and hands.

› Work boots that provide better traction and protect your feet against dropped objects.

Remember: When lifting something heavy, it is OK to ask for help!