Safety Tips Ergonomics Injury prevention Musculoskeletal disorders Office safety Safe lifting

Watch your back: The right way to lift objects

Photo: Jennifer Yario

From boxes of paper near the printer to large packages in the mailroom, office settings contain a number of objects – some quite heavy – that require manual lifting. Are you following safe lifting practices?

It’s important to know how to lift the right way. According to the 2017 edition of Injury Facts, a National Safety Council chartbook, more than 300,000 cases of sprains, strains or tears resulted in days away from work in 2014. Help protect yourself by following these four steps for safe lifting from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries:

  1. Size it up. Is the load light enough to be lifted by one person? If not, use a hand truck or ask for assistance. Check the container for exposed nails or staples that could cause injuries, and make sure you have a clear path to where you’re moving the load.
  2. Safely lift. If the load can be lifted without assistance, first bring it as close to your body as possible. Lift with your legs – never with your back. Keep your head up and your back straight, and bend at the hips.
  3. Move with care. Keep the load close to your body as you walk, and look ahead to be sure your path remains clear. Shift – don’t twist – your body to turn.
  4. Don’t just drop it. When you’re ready to set down the load, let your leg muscles “carry it down,” Washington L&I states. Make sure your fingers and toes are clear of the load before setting it down.

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