Short and simple info blog –

Every body knows that lifting articles poorly can lead to Back pain and backache, they also know that you need to bend your knees – thats all you ever hear – but is that all you need to consider?

Don’t be fooled by the size of an object – these rules apply to lighter things too, although slightly less stringent.

Considerations BEFORE lifting

How heavy, is it an awkward shape and how difficult is it likely to be – get help/machinery appropriate to this or break it down to smaller pieces.

Make sure you can see over your intended load when carrying (preferably not round it as you want your spine upright)*

Where you going to put it down – make sure you have a clear area to place it in.

Are you taking it some distance – you may need to have temporary resting places (the above point  applies here too).

Ensure pathway sufficiently wide for transporting (object and people carrying it).

It may be necessary to monitor or close off access from side passage ways so that neither you, or others, get nasty surprises.

Ensure all of the above is clear of trip points and obvious dangers – be aware of floor conditions*

If it will help you, consider using slings/rope/lifting gear

Consider having wooden** blocks standing by place the item onto. This enables you to place the item onto the floor without crushing your fingers and facilitates the removal of any slings/ropes at the end of the job.

Lifting techniques

Have the heavier side of the load nearest to you to reduce leverage on your spine.

Feet shoulder width apart and well planted, one foot may be slightly forward if lifting from table height but alongside if on floor.

TRY to keep your back fairly upright (not rigidly upright) – Head facing straight ahead (not tilted down) will help achieve this

Squat (yes, I said it – Bending your knees) with your backside close to your heels

Equally important and seldom mentioned – Face what you are going to lift SQUARE ON ***

Carrying the article

Back Pain treatments

Communicate with others in your team – let them know that its getting too much or ‘watch that door’ etc

Try to hold the item close to your Waist or Abdomen – this puts less leverage on your spine

Avoid twisting or leaning to either side whilst carrying the item – shuffle your feet to turn rather than twist your hips/torso

Keep your Back upright throughout whenever possible – don’t look down.

Make smooth movements and adjust your grip if necessary – Jerky movements can cause you, or another member of your team, to lose their grip and endanger you all!


Putting it down

As seen in the previous sections – and providing you’ve adhered to them – this is simply the same points

Communicate – Stand square on – Feet shoulder distance apart – Back upright – Head looking forward – Squat – watch out for all lifting teams fingers (not just your own) – go and have a cup of tea (or stronger stuff) to recover and say thanks to your team

Explanations and Conclusions

Using a spare person to ‘spot’ dangers and to be able to step in if something unexpected happens is a good idea

**Wood is used as it is less likely to allow the load to slip over its surface, the weight deforms the wood and bites in whereas steel would have less friction and therefore not hold it securely

*** More people come to my clinic because they have lifted and twisted at the same time, than almost any other injury. The spine is supported by many muscles such as Erector Spinae and these are easily strained when doing this. It also increases the tendency to suffer lower back pain – particularly in the Lumbar and the Sacroiliac regions (either side of your belt line)

There are other considerations but this is intended to be informative and brief – If you are a company and want more advice on Manual handling or other Health and Safety issues I can recommend both METT and Hascat as experts in their fields

If you’ve already lifted badly, or are experiencing any other physical discomforts, please feel free to contact me.

Remove the pain – feel the gain