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Safe Lifting

A leading cause of back injury at work is lifting or handling objects incorrectly. By practicing these safe lifting techniques, and avoiding bad lifting habits, you and your staff can stay healthy and on the job.

Lift Safely

Plan Your Lift

  • Check for a weight listing or test the weight of the load before lifting.
  • Consider how far the item must be carried. Ensure the path is clear of objects you could trip over, and any doors are propped open for ease of access.
  • If the object has sharp edges, are slippery, or hard to handle, consider using gloves.

Know your limits!

  • Do not lift or handle more than you can easily manage.
  • Ask for help if you think the item is too heavy to safely lift by yourself, or if lifting the object would block your sightline.
  • Whenever practical, use aids such as a dolly or a cart when lifting, carrying, and moving heavy items.

Make the Lift

  • Take a wide stance with the load between your feet. Bend the knees and hips similar to sitting down on a chair to lower yourself toward the load. Keep you back straight and upright.
  • Grasp the object to be lifted, trying to keep your shoulders set back.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back. Use small steps to turn to avoid twisting your back.
  • Keep the load close to your body, once standing.
  • Move smoothly, don’t twist. Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps. Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move.
Safe lifting techniques
Safe lifting techniques

Putting Down the Load

  • Lower the load using the same procedure as lifting the load, in reverse.
  • To place the load on a high shelf, keep the elbows tight to the body while pushing upward. Tighten the abdominal muscles to keep the back from arching backward


  • Bending, twisting, or reaching while lifting.
  • Lifting a heavy object above shoulder level.
  • Wearing jewelry while lifting.
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