Lifting Products for Back Safety

When employees use smart lifting practices, they are less likely to suffer from back sprains, muscle pulls, wrist and elbow injuries, spinalCart Image injuries and other problems caused by manual material handling.   There are various mechanical devices, engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE) you can put in place to reduce or eliminate lifting processes at your school buildings.   You must assess and analyze the characteristics of the work environment and the characteristics of the lifting equipment to choose the one that best suits the specific needs of your staff. 

First and foremost, practice and teach proper lifting techniques for all school staff. 

  • keeping your feet shoulder distance apart,
  • bending from your hips and knees,
  • holding the load close to your body,
  • controlling your procedure,
  • lift and move with your legs and not your back (avoid twisting when carrying).

Many manufacturers produce great lifting products to assist workers when lifting to avoid injuries.  Some products that are common in the workplace are moving straps or harnesses.  Manual moving harnesses and straps slide underneath heavy or large objects to provide leverage and encourage proper lifting technique when two people are moving these objects by hand. The harnesses and straps distribute the weight of the objects and help keep them stable as they're being moved.

Hand trucks, carts and pallet trucks are another good way to move objects as they decrease the risk of overexertion and back strains but pose their own hazards. When maneuvering this equipment, always maintain a safe speed and keep them under control.  Be careful manipulating stairs with a hand truck, moving one tread at a time. Hand trucks and carts can cause lower body injuries when feet and legs get caught under them, so be sure to move slowly and keep good distance from the wheels and underside.

Furniture sliders are an effective way to move objects such as desks, large appliances, or other pieces of furniture in the workplace. Furniture sliders can be used to move an appliance away from the wall to unplug it and ready it for the move or to maneuver it onto a dolly. Additionally, you can use sliders to move furniture a short distance, such as across the room. 

A popular way to prevent back pain and improving posture is by wearing a back brace. Back braces hold your back in the best position, preventing strain while you're sitting and standing.  Back braces are designed to take support away from the vital areas of your back, such as the spine, intervertebral discs, and vertebrae. This alleviates the stress these areas endure to support your back, resulting in pain reduction.

Maintenance staff should also look to wear basic steel toe or hard toe work boots when performing common construction activities such as lifting heavy objects, as they protect the toes should the heavy item fall onto the foot. Steel or hard toe shoes must meet specific standards for impact and compression protection (OSHA 29 FR 1910.136).

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