Most of us are aware of correct lifting habits but an impatience to get the job done may push this good knowledge to one side. This page will reinforce some of the main topics regarding good manual handling and hopefully provide a few useful tips for future use. Remember, that whilst we often consider that injuries occur after one single event of poor lifting it is more likely that these occur due to an accumulation of minor, repetitive traumas over a period of time.
Think before you lift. Before lifting any object consider its shape, weight and whether it is within your capability to lift it. Test the load first if you are uncertain of its weight. If in any doubt … do not lift it. Consider whether the load can be shared (get some help), reduced (half the load and make two trips), if there is any lifting / moving equipment available (e.g. a trolley) and whether you can lessen the journey (e.g. when loading up the car, reverse it back as close to the load as possible). Make sure there are no obstacles in the way or anything to trip or slip over as you move the load.
Bend your knees and use your leg muscles
Whilst we consider that our trunk is broad and robust, the actual back muscles responsible for straightening us up from a bent position are long, strap like and not particularly strong. By contrast the buttock and thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) are the largest muscle groups in the body and they are strong.
Keep your back straight
The vertebral discs in the spine act as shock absorbers and spacers in the back. They are placed under more pressure in a slumped or stooped position. When further stress is added to them (such as lifting a heavy load with an incorrect lifting technique) then the risks of causing injury are raised significantly. Keep your back straight throughout the lift, avoid twisting and let the leg muscles take the strain.
It is important to hold the load really close to your body. The further away from the body the weight is held, the greater the stress on the spine.
The must do’s:
• Ensure a wide stable base
• Ensure you have a good grip of the object you are moving
• Break often and stretch if you are doing repetitive handling