Manual handling and safety go hand in hand. Incorrect techniques when lifting and carrying heavy loads can have a serious impact not only on your back, but your general health and wellbeing too. Using the right methods to lift, carry and move heavy objects in the workplace can save you a world of pain.
Here are our top tips on safe manual handling in the workplace:
Know Where to Bend, and Keep it Straight
It’s important to bend your knees and keep a straight back when lifting objects up from the ground. Keeping your back straight and squatting down to pick up heavy items can reduce the amount of pressure you put on your back. Also, be sure to keep a straight back whilst carrying the load. Twisting your back to turn or shift the load can increase the risk of back pain. A straight back is a happy back!
Where are you Going?
So you’ve picked up a heavy box, but do you know where it needs to go? A good idea before picking up anything heavy is knowing where you will be taking it. Plan exactly where you will be going before you pick up anything heavy. Doing so can reduce how long you will carry the load. As well as reducing the risk of it slipping and falling from your hands as you try to manoeuvre around the workplace carrying heavy objects.
Take it in Small Doses
It may not always be possible, but if you can break up a heavy load into smaller ones. It may take a little more time to to complete the task at hand, but isn’t it better to take a few minutes more and safely finish the task than overexerting and straining your back? Time may be of the essence, but your health and wellbeing are irreplaceable.
If you’ve ever played sports you know just how important it is to warm up. Stretching and warming up your muscles before lifting a heavy load can prepare your body for physical activity and helps reduce the likelihood of injury.
Help! Use it Often
Sometimes you just won’t be able to lift or carry a heavy load on your own. You may need to ask for assistance and perform a team lift. Alternatively, if you have access to mechanical aids use them. Just because you can lift a heavy load by yourself, doesn’t mean you should. If you have other options available to you, utilise them when needed. There is only so much strain your back can take.
Keep it Close to the Heart
When carrying a heavy load, the closer you keep it to your body the better. The further away you hold it from your body, the heavier it becomes. You go from relying on your whole body strength to just the strength of your back and arms if you hold further away.
Carrying heavy, loose items can be difficult. As you carry them, they can shift and make a simple task rather troublesome. It’s better to ‘bin it’. Place loose items in a box, bucket or bin. This makes carrying them significantly easier for you and will save you and your back the trouble of having to readjust as you carry the objects and prevent them from dropping or falling from your hands.