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Proper Lifting Techniques OSHA: Correct Techniques for Lifting

Proper Lifting Techniques OSHA: Correct Techniques for Lifting


There is a variety of ways that an employee can overexert and get injured in the workplace. Each year there are around 264 million days of lost work in the American workplace due to back injuries. Most of these injuries are caused by pushing, pulling, poor posture, twisting, and most commonly lifting heavy objects.

Even though OSHA doesn’t have a specific standard for lifting, under the General Duty Clause “Each employer—shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees…” This means that employees can address this clause if they are exposed to hazards related to heavy lifting or back injuries if they were not properly trained or given the proper equipment.


Before attempting to lift, remember these tips. Do not attempt lifting if the object is too heavy, the object is above your shoulders, you have a partial grip, you are fatigued, you cannot see in front of you, you are holding your breath, or you are in a hurry.

When attempting to lift an object, you should do the following: plan on how to lift, stretch your back and legs, lift the object, carry the object, and place the object down.

Planning. The first thing you must do is make a plan. You must check your surroundings, the weight of the object, the path of lifting, any obstructions, and if you can lift it by yourself or you need another person.

Stretching. One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to stretch and warm-up. This loosens up your muscles and allows your body to get ready for lifting.

Lifting. Always bend your knees and keep your upper body upright. This will allow your legs to do the work and not your back. This prevents the majority of injures.

Carrying. Make sure that you have a good grip and handle on the object. Take your time and communicate well if someone is helping you. Do not do any sudden movements or twists.

Putting down. Do the opposite of lifting where you lower your legs and keep the object near you.

Even though some of these steps seem easier than others, you can get injured in any of them just as easily as the lifting part.

Other ways you can prevent injuries are taking breaks, having braces and lift aides, following regulations, and receiving most of all proper training.

An excellent resource to use is NIOSH. This pdf provides much more detail on proper techniques of lifting.

Another excellent resource is the Hard Hat Training Series. They have a wide variety of safety trainings for every workplace. In the workplaces where lifting objects is necessary, they provide the correct techniques for lifting as well. Good luck and stay safe!