Most of you have heard the general rules of safe lifting. Remember to “Get a firm grip on the load, keep it close, bend at the knees, use your legs to lift the load, and keep your spine in the natural position (with an arch in your lower back).” These principles always apply and should be incorporated into every lift–if possible! Given the enormous number of “risky” lifting situations that you are faced with at your place of work, you may not be able to apply these principles every time. This is why you must always remember to LIFT IT TWICE! What?!
The act of lifting is the same as any other movement that you can learn to do better with practice. As you know, the more you practice a skill the better you become at doing it. But preparing to master a skill normally involves mental as well as physical training. Consider bowling, golf, skiing or sharpshooting. You think carefully about the movements you’re going to make before you do them. This is the only way to get them right–at least until they become second nature.
Most of you know the proper way to physically lift an item, but how many of you are aware that you need to lift the item TWICE.
1. Your first lift is a mental lift. Think about the lift prior to actually doing it:
* How am I going to lift the item? Can I do it myself or should I get some help?
* How heavy is the item? Do I need to use mechanical assistance?
* Where am I taking the item being lifted? Is it a difficult path or a distance to go?
* What hazards may hamper the lift or obstruct the travel path?
* Eliminate those hazards before you lift the item.
2. The second lift is the actual physical lift. Here is where you carry out your plan.
* Use proper body mechanics and techniques while going through the motions.
* Most important: keep the load as close to your body as possible.
Next time someone tells you to lift twice remember: Two lifts means less risk of a back strain.