Safe Lifting Techniques For Heavy Objects

Back and shoulder injuries account for nearly 36 percent of workplace injuries. Lifting heavy items is one of the major causes of these injuries. Overexertion and cumulative trauma were the biggest factors in these injuries. Bending, followed by twisting and turning, was the more commonly cited movement that caused back injuries. Strains and sprains from lifting loads incorrectly or from carrying loads that are either too large or too heavy are common hazards associated with manually moving materials.
Not just back and shoulder injuries but also muscle pulls, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, spinal injuries, and other injuries caused by lifting heavy objects can be prevented if employees use smart lifting practices. 
Let us look at some of the best practices. 
• Think before you lift
Plan the lift. Where is the load going to be placed? Will I need help with the load? Is there equipment you could use, such as a hoist, that could help with the lift? Remember to remove any obstructions that would be in the way. 
Keep the load close to the waist
Keep the load close to the waist for as long as possible while lifting to reduce the amount of pressure on the back. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body. If it is not possible to closely approach the load, try to slide it towards the body before trying to lift it.
Adopt a stable position
Your feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance. Be prepared to move your feet during the lift to maintain a stable posture. 
Ensure a good hold on the load
If possible, hold the load close to the body. This should help you make a stronger and more solid lift than gripping the load tightly with the hands only.
Do not bend your back when lifting
A slight bending of the back, hips, and knees at the start of the lift is preferable to either fully flexing the back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees – in other words, fully squatting.
Do not bend the back any further while lifting
This can happen if the legs begin to straighten before starting to raise the load.
Do not twist when you lift
Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways, especially while the back is bent. Keep your shoulders level and facing the same direction as the hips. Turning by moving your feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
Look ahead
Keep your head up when handling the load. Look ahead, not down at the load, once it has been held securely.
Move smoothly
Do not jerk or snatch the load as this can make it harder to keep control and increases the risk of injury.
Know your limits
Do not lift or handle more than you can easily manage. There's a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If you're in doubt, seek advice or get help.
A training program to teach workers how to lift loads properly should be used in combination with workplace redesign that reduces the amount of lifting needed. Remember, if materials are too heavy to lift and carry safely, get help, redesign the materials to be lighter and easier to handle, or use mechanical assists such as hoists, carts, or conveyors.