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Safe lifting tips at work to help prevent back injuries

Back injuries at work are fairly common, and incorrect lifting or manual handling techniques are the main culprit for these problems. By following some basic guidelines, you can reduce your likelihood of sustaining such an injury at work.

Health and safety at work is paramount. The first thing to consider is where you need to put the item you are lifting. Clear a space so you can reach your destination easily, and rest the item halfway and change your grip.

The best place for any load is as near as possible to your waist in order to avoid overloading your spine, and to have the heaviest side of the load nearest to your body.

Feet need to be slightly parted and you can keep your balance by putting one leg slightly in front of the other. You might need to move during the lift, just to keep yourself stable. In order to get a really good grip on the item you’re lifting, you might need to hug it in close to your body for extra support. It’s important that you’re wearing the right type of clothing for a lift. Anything that’s too tight will constrain you. Another good health and safety at work tip is to avoid footwear like flip flops or heels, as these can impede you, too.

Avoid stooping over at all costs. Instead, try to give your hips, knees and back a slight bend, and raise the load up carefully, straightening your legs at the same time (if you straighten before you start to lift, you can flex your back too far).

Infographoic showing safe lifting technqiues

Always keep your shoulders level and facing the same way as your hips, and avoid twisting or leaning. If you need to turn, use your feet. For good health and safety at work techniques, your head needs to be up at all times. Once you have a good, secure hold on the load then you can keep looking straight ahead. Keep all your movements smooth and fluid. Jerking and snatching can cause you to lose control.

If you’re worrying about whether you can lift something then you probably can’t. One of the golden rules of safe lifting is to only lift (or handle) what you feel completely comfortable with. If something is too heavy or too unwieldy then you might need someone to help you, or some lifting aids. Don’t try to tackle anything that you think is going to cause you a problem. Take advice straight away, or ask for help.

When you reach your destination, the best thing to do is to put the item down first, then slide it into the correct position. Trying to position it first might need you to move or twist awkwardly, and after all your hard work correctly lifting the item you don’t want to damage your back right at the last minute.

Maintaining good health and safety at work practices is paramount if you are to avoid injury.