Incorrect handling and lifting is among the main causes of back injuries at work. Learning how to properly lift and handle objects can help to avoid a back injury.
Think first, lift second
To avoid a back injury while lifting, you should first of all ask yourself:
- Can I manage lifting this load on my own?
- Are there any lifting or handling aids I can use?
- Where am I going with the load?
The latter of these three questions is extremely important as you will have to make sure the route to this location is clear of slip or trip hazards, and you will be able to put down your load safely on arrival.
Know your own limits. Being able to lift a load does not necessarily mean you can lift it safely. If there is any doubt in your mind that you can lift something without the risk of being injured at work, get someone else to help or use an appropriate lifting aid.
How to avoid a back injury
When lifting objects on your own, avoid a back injury by:
- Standing with your feet apart, maintaining your balance by keeping one leg a little ahead of the other one
- On lifting, allowing your legs to take most of the strain
- Bending your knees, hips and back slightly, but without squatting or stooping
- Pulling your pelvis in by tightening the muscles in your stomach
- Do not straighten legs before the lift, as you may otherwise strain your back
- Keep the object as close to you, the heaviest end closest to your body, as possible for as long as you can
- Avoid leaning sideways or twisting your body; your shoulders should be facing the same way as your hips and level, especially while your back is still bent
- If you have to turn, do so by moving your feet, rather than lifting and twisting simultaneously
- Once you are securely holding the load, look ahead, rather than down onto the load, to prevent injuries by slips or trips on the way
At your destination, put down the load safely by remembering not to twist, stoop or squat while doing so.
Their duty to prevent accidents at work includes employers training employees in safe manual handling procedures. If you sustain an injury at work because this training was not provided, you could qualify for a work injury claim.
Enrol first class Accident Advice Helpline legal support throughout your claim process by calling our 24/7 freephone advice line on 0333 500 0993 from your mobile, or 0800 689 0500 from a landline, today.