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SF Health Network
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Occupational Safety & Health

Back Safety

 

Lifting Techniques

There are a variety of safe lifting techniques you can employ to lift objects properly. There are techniques for a variety of situations such as:

  • Power Lift. When you cannot position yourself close to the object you're lifting.
  • Overhead Lift.
  • Golfers' Lift. For small, light objects deep in bins or on the floor.
  • For greater details on these and other lifting techniques, review the US Army "Lifting Techniques" document.

Let's review some commonly used lifting techniques.

Basic Lift
  • Maintain your balance by placing your feet about shoulder width apart with one foot slightly forward.
  • Test the load before making the lift.
  • Get close to the object.
  • Bend your knees and keep your head, shoulders and hips in a straight line.
  • Get a secure grasp on the object.
  • Keep the object close to your body for greater support and stability.
  • Prepare for the lift by looking forward.
  • Lift upwards following your head and shoulders; extend your legs, maintain a straight back, your buttocks out and breathe out as you lift.
  • Don't twist when moving. Turn your feet and body in the direction you are traveling.
contact pressure picreaching picreaching picreaching pic
 
Power Lift

The power lift should be used to lift objects too large or awkwardly shaped for you to straddle them. The power lift is also used by individuals with bad knees that make it difficult to lift from the deep knee squat required with the basic lift.

The power lift is very similar to the basic lift. However, with the power lift you shift your center of gravity forward by bending at your hips and pushing your buttocks out for balance while maintaining a straight back.

The power lift is the position used by professional weight lifters and baseball infielders when fielding ground balls.

To execute a power lift:

  • With a wide stance place one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Keep your back straight and push your buttocks out by bending at your hips.
  • Use your legs and hips to lower yourself to the object.
  • Get as close as possible to the object.
  • Get a good grip on the object.
  • Prepare for the lift by looking forward, extending your legs and maintaining a straight back as you lift.
contact pressure picreaching pic
 
Golfer's Lift

The golfer's lift is used to pick up small light objects off the floor such as a pen or piece of paper or to pick up small light objects deep in bins.

This is the lifting technique used by golfers to pick up their golf ball without a deep knee squat while maintaining a straight back.

To execute a golfer's lift:

  • Place a hand near the edge of a fixed surface such as a table, chair or bin or against a wall.
  • Keep your back straight and raise one leg as you lean forward to pick up the object. The weight of your raised
    leg serves as a counter balance to your upper body and insures you maintain a straight back.
  • Lift by pushing down on the fixed surface as you lower your leg while maintaining a straight back.
contact pressure pic
 
Partial Squat Lift

The partial squat lift is used for small, light objects with handles at about knee height such as pails or suitcases.

To execute a partial squat lift:

  • Stand close to the object at your side.
  • Place your feet about shoulder width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other for balance.
  • Put one hand on a fixed object such as a table, wall or your thigh.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend your knees, push your buttocks out and lower yourself to grasp the handle.
  • Grasp the handle firmly while looking forward and maintaining a straight back.
  • Lift upwards by extending your legs and maintaining a straight back.
contact pressure pic  

 

Pulling It All Together

Prepare for your lift by:

  • Having a clear path to travel.
  • Using lifting aids such as hand trucks, carts, pallet jacks and forklifts whenever possible.
  • Breaking down heavy loads into smaller, lighter ones whenever possible.
  • Storing heavy objects below shoulder height and frequently used items between knee and shoulder height to reduce lifting demands.

Lift safely by:

  • Keeping the object close to your body.
  • Testing the load before making the lift.
  • Getting a secure grasp on the object.
  • Preparing for the lift by looking forward.
  • Lifting upward by extending your legs and maintaining a straight back.
  • Turning your feet in the direction you're traveling rather than twisting your torso.
contact pressure picreaching picreaching picreaching pic

 

Improve your lifting comfort by:

  • Maintaining your health
  • Varying your job duties as much as possible throughout the day to reduce muscle fatigue
  • Taking frequent "mini" breaks of 1-2 minutes for every hour of continuous lifting tasks performed.
  • Perform stretching exercises throughout the day.

For more information on back safety and proper lifting techniques, consider attending the OSH Back
Safety class. Contact Nancy Terranova (554-2651) or Karen Heckman (554-2762) for additional information.