A Short Guide to Lifting Safety

Know more about lifting safety and the importance of having safe lifting practices in the workplace.

people exhibiting lifting safety with a supervisor

What is Lifting Safety?

Lifting safety refers to the safety of a worker while lifting items. In all industries and workplaces, lifting safety is applicable when doing manual lifting, mechanical lifting, and other related manual handling tasks. Proper lifting procedures should be followed at all times to reduce the risk of injuries, incidents, absences, and the like.

It is important to always consider lifting safety in your operations as not only does it reduce or avoid injuries in staff, but it also helps increase productivity in the workplace. Ensuring safe lifting practices and documenting them also help workers create better emergency procedures and contingency plans, which can help everybody steer clear from harm during emergencies.  

What are Some Hazards When Lifting?

Before lifting anything, there are many factors to consider as they can be hazardous to your body and your equipment. Some of which to consider are:

  • The weight of the item or items to be lifted
  • The closeness of the items to be lifted to your body 
  • The posture you have when lifting 
  • The size, shape, height, width, and texture of the load
  • The distance you have to carry the items for 
  • The movements you need to perform to lift the items and move with it 
  • The time you will spend carrying the items 
  • The number of times you need to carry a certain item or items
  • The amount of training required to carry certain weights

Improper lifting practices and assessment of risks when lifting can lead to gradual wear and tear from repetitive harmful movements as well as staying static for long periods of time. Sudden movements, force, and vibrations while lifting can also stress your body significantly as they can affect posture and ergonomics, as per the US’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the long run, such things can affect your musculoskeletal system. 

According to Safe Work Australia, some common injuries you can get from improper lifting practices are:

  • Muscle, ligament, and tendon sprains and strains
  • Back, nerve, hand, foot, and tissue injuries
  • Joint and bone breaking and degeneration
  • Muscular and vascular disorders
  • Chronic pain (any kind of pain that lasts more than three months) 
  • Acute pain (any kind of pain that lasts less than three months) 

Create Your Own Lifting Safety Checklist

Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.

Get started for FREE

Proper Lifting Techniques 

To properly exhibit lifting safety practices, it must begin with the self. Examine your physical condition first to assess if you are fit to conduct tasks related to manual handling. If you plan to lift something manually, remember the following proper lifting techniques from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on how to safely lift items:

  • Reduce the amount of twisting and reaching you need to do. 
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects and packages from floor level or places higher than your shoulders.
  • Break down or divide larger items and packages into smaller and lighter quantities to carry them easier, especially when you need to travel a long distance with them.

The same reminders should be kept in mind when exhibiting and following lifting safety with the help of equipment. However, there are some specific lifting techniques to remember:

  • Analyze if the type of lifting equipment is fit for the items you need to lift and your needs.
  • Consider the storage area of your items and your lifting equipment. 
  • Know the route you need to travel with your equipment if it has wheels, and consider if you might damage infrastructure or bother people along the way.
  • Avoid traveling long distances with your lifting equipment whenever possible. 
  • Carry only what you know your equipment can accommodate, do not overload. 

How Safe Lifting Training can Help you Mitigate Workplace Injuries

Safe lifting training is all about teaching employees how to lift and move objects in a safe and smart way, no matter their job role. Whether you’re in charge of warehouse workers, folks in trades, or even administrative staff in an office setting, providing training to your team can help them mitigate risks.

Heavy equipment isn’t the only thing to watch out for. Even lifting seemingly light objects like a case of printer paper or a box of paper towels improperly can lead to short and long-term musculoskeletal injuries.

If you want to put together effective safe lifting training content, you can give Training‘s creator tool a try. With it, you don’t need any design or coding skills. Just use its drag-and-drop capabilities to transform your lifting guidelines into highly interactive slides in minutes.

With Training’s creator tool, you can customize your training with engaging elements like videos, quizzes, and fun gamified quizzes. That way, your team will be hooked in their training from the beginning till the end.

Other Safety Precautions 

Aside from your physical condition and exhibiting proper lifting techniques, you should also conduct a risk assessment of your equipment and your immediate surroundings regularly. Lifting safety considers not only the person lifting but also the following factors:

  • The condition of the equipment to be used
  • The weight of items to be lifted
  • The weather conditions of your immediate environment
  • The condition of the ground where the equipment will be used
  • The maintenance schedule of your equipment
  • The policies of your workplace regarding lifting safety
  • The records of injuries at your workplace, how they happened, and how they were addressed 

Additionally, it is also important for team or organization heads to conduct toolbox talks for their staff prior to lifting to ensure safety. While toolbox talks are not legally required by most countries and worker safety groups such as the UK HSE, Australia’s Safe Work Australia, and US OSHA, they can be a big help in promoting and creating lifting safety procedures. 

FAQs about Lifting Safety

The golden rule of lifting, specifically manual lifting, is to always bend your knees when picking something up from the ground. Never go down on one knee unless necessary, or twist your body in the process.

Industries most known for using lifting equipment include the following:

  • Engineering
  • Film
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Agriculture 

Some of the most common lifting equipment are:

In most countries, there are no dedicated laws for lifting safety. Rather, lifting safety regulations fall under laws and regulations about manual handling, construction, and engineering. 

SafetyCulture Content Team
Article by
SafetyCulture Content Team
SafetyCulture Content Team
The SafetyCulture content team is dedicated to providing high-quality, easy-to-understand information to help readers understand complex topics and improve workplace safety and quality. Our team of writers have extensive experience at producing articles for different fields such as safety, quality, health, and compliance.