Love Your Back: Learn to Lift Safely
Recent data indicates that the most frequently injured body part is the back because of lifting and carrying on the job. That is why the United States Postal Service® encourages employees to apply safe lifting practices to their daily tasks. When discussing how to prevent back injuries, the main thing to remember is that these problems are much easier to avoid than to fix once the damage is done.
Here are some lifting methods employees can use to help prevent back injuries:
- Reduce or eliminate the need for manual material handling. Can you accomplish the same manual task with the use of a mechanical aid?
- Use pallet lifters and container tilters to help bring the load higher and closer, which reduces back-bending while lifting.
- Place parcels or mail trays on elevated surfaces to keep them off the floor.
- Use a cart or hand trunk to lift and transport heavy loads.
If lifting objects cannot be avoided, follow these best practices:
- Never place objects on the floor in the first place.
- Reduce the distance objects must be lifted by staging and storing everything above knee height or, ideally, at about waist height.
- When you must lift an object:
- Let your legs do the work and avoid bending the back.
- Never twist your back or move side-to-side while lifting.
- Keep the load close to your body when lifting and carrying.
- Get help from a coworker if an object is too heavy or bulky to manage alone.
Using precautionary methods such as these establishes good lifting habits and helps prevent downtime from avoidable back injuries both on and off the job.
For more information about proper lifting practices, see Publication 129, Safety Talks, at https://blue.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/pubs/pub129/pub129_ch10_001.htm#ep1163528 and https://blue.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/pubs/pub129/pub129_ch10_002.htm.
— Occupational Safety and Health,
Human Resources, 5-19-22