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Lifting Techniques

­Forklifts, hoists, dollies and other types of lifting equipment are used to raise heavy objects.  Sometimes, it is necessary to load or unload moderate to heavy objects by hand.

Knowing the proper lifting methods may save employees avoidable pain from a strained back.  Consider the following before lifting an object:

character lifting box

Assess the situation:

  • Can the object be lifted and loaded – is a two person job?
  • How far will the load has to be carried? Once the load is lifted, will view be block?
  • Is the path clear of clutter, cords, slippery areas, overhangs, stairs, curbs or uneven surfaces? Are there any closed doors?
  • Can the load be broken down into smaller parts?
  • Should gloves be worn to protect hands and get a better grip?

Size up the load:

  • Test the weight by lifting one of the corners. If it is too heavy or an awkward shape – STOP and ask for help from coworkers.
  • Use a mechanical lift or a hand truck in practical.

Use good load raising methods:

  • Get close to the load. Center the body over the load and stand with feet shoulder width apart. The farther the load is from the body, the heavier it will feel.
  • Tighten stomach muscles. Tight abdominal muscles increase intra-abdominal pressure and help support the back.
  • Bend the knees. Squat down, keep back in its natural arch, and let the leg muscles do the lifting.
  • Do not jerk. Use a smooth motion and lift straight up.
  • Keep head up, look straight and avoid twisting the body.

Carrying the load:

  • Change direction by turning the feet, not the back. Keep nose between the toes and pointed towards the direction of travel. Avoid any sudden twisting, which could result in injuring the back.
  • Rest if feeling fatigued. Set the load down and relax for a few minutes.

Setting the load down:

  • Bend the knees. Squat down and let the legs do the work.
  • Maintain natural curves in back. Avoid twisting the body while placing the load down, keep head up and straight.
  • Keep the load close.
  • Plan the release. Release the grip only after the load is in the desired position – don’t release grip until the load is secure.

Using hand trucks and pushcarts:

  • Push rather than pull – it’s easier and safer. Use body weight to assist when pushing.
  • Stay close to the load and lock arms. Try not to lean over and keep the back in its natural arches.
  • Use both hands, which is easier to push and control.
  • Use tie-downs (if necessary) to secure the load.


  • Utilize to lift and transport very heavy objects.
  • Obtain training and authorization before using a forklift (contact SH&S for assistance).