Lifting & Back Safety

Your back is one of your biggest assets, and protecting it while working is a priority. Creating a plan and following a few quick “Do’s and Don’ts” can make all the difference. Here are some lifting and back safety guidelines that have been developed to mitigate hazards associated with lifting, and will protect you and your team. 

Make a plan before starting the work

  • Examine the object to decide where and how to hold it. Check for oil, grease, moisture and sharp edges.
  • Clear your intended path of obstructions and trip hazards.
  • Know where and how you will let the object down.
  • Consider the size, weight and shape of objects before lifting.
  • Get help if you have any doubts about lifting an object; never try to lift beyond your capability.
  • Wear a back support if required

Lifting by hand (Manual Materials Handling)

  • Use gloves when handling material that may cause hand or finger injury; gloves can avoid injuries when splinters are a potential hazard.
  • Alternate lifting tasks among workers to minimize potential for strain injury.
  • When in doubt, use mechanical means to undertake move (i.e. dollies, trolleys etc.)
  • Whenever possible, push or pull loads rather than lifting.
  • Avoid lifts to and from the floor.
  • Know the weight of the object to be handled and if weight is excessive, get help.
  • Use care when piling material. Think about how best to stack it to prevent material falling over and injuring someone. 
  • Pile material so it does not interfere with access to fire extinguishers or other emergency equipment or emergency exits.
  • When loading pallets by hand be aware of possible pinch points that could cause injury.

Safe Lifting Procedures

  • Squat keeping feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Keep your back straight; bend your knees.
  • Grasp the object firmly; be sure your grip won’t slip.
  • Lift with your legs – slowly straighten them; after your legs are straight, bring your back to the vertical position.
  • Hold the object close to your body.
  • Avoid sudden motions
  • Turn with your feet instead of twisting your back.
  • When lowering load, undertake lifting sequence outlined above in reverse order

There are great resources available to training and communicating back safety to you teams or crew. Here is an article from Worksafe BC on lifting and handling