DIY How To

Look After Yourself: 5 Tips to Ensure You're Lifting Construction Materials Safely

Poor load lifting habits are a major cause of workplace injuries – especially back injuries. According to OSHA, four out of five injuries resulting from poor load lifting habits involve the lower back.

While these injuries rarely result in work-related fatalities, they have been shown to cause a significant amount of burden for victims as well as employers.

We all have a role to play in reducing and, where possible, eliminating these injuries altogether. The following are five tips for material lifting, storing, and handling equipment workers can follow to reduce the risk of injury.

Planning and moving the load safely

1. Plan for the load
Before you even touch the load, take time to plan on how you're going to carry it to the required destination. Among other things, you need to verify that the path to the destination is clear. Tripping obstacles or having to put down the load in the middle of work to clear your path creates additional and completely unnecessary hazards. Secondly, looking at the load before you begin lifting can help determine whether mechanical assistance or second person might be needed to move the load. According to OSHA, the maximum load you should attempt to lift on your own is 51 pounds. Beyond that point, you need help. Preparing also involves getting the load to a height at which lifting becomes easier.

2. Position yourself correctly
It's important to approach the load evenly. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart and move the center of your body as close as possible to the center of the load. This ensures balance when lifting the load. Another thing is to consider handles or handholds. Of course, not all loads have handles. However, where they're available, use them. In fact, two handles make lifting a lot easier.

3. Pick up the load the right way
How you pick up the load is critical. As you move the object upward, maintain natural motion, keeping the object as close as possible to your spine. Also, engage the torso muscles to stabilize the spine and maintain normal breathing as your legs and arms do the lifting. Remember that the load has to remain in the power zone and aligned to your torso throughout. The power zone is the region horizontally between the shoulders and vertically between the center of the chest and middle of your things.

4. Keep the spine upright as you move
The spine must remain in its natural position. Additionally, avoid twisting, bending, or reaching. If trying to change direction, rather than twist at the waist or along the spine, use your feet to step in the new direction then let the load and rest of the body follow.

5. Always put down loads slowly
Never drop, shove, or jerk heavy loads into place. It creates an unnecessary risk. Instead, slowly and steadily lower the load to protect yourself from harm and injury.
These five tips should help you move any load around without exposing yourself to a risk of injury. Sharp, pointed, and awkwardly shaped loads, however, need additional and sometimes even special arrangements.

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