Safe Lifting
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Safe Lifting

What you need to know

5 Facts

  1. Handling materials is the most common cause of back pain at work.
  2. Roughly 75 percent of Canadians who handle material on the job will experience a back injury at some point.
  3. Back injuries are the cause of one-third of all lost work and more than one third of compensation costs.
  4. Individual ranges of what people can safely lift (women/men, young/old) vary greatly.
  5. Experience matters more than strength—workers aged 20-45 suffer more back injuries than workers over age 45.

5 Things to Remember

  1. Loads over 20 kilograms (44 pounds) increase the risk and severity of back injuries.
  2. Location of the load is also very important—the further a load is carried or lifted away from your body the greater the strain on your back and arms.
  3. Size matters—a bulky object will cause more stress than a smaller one of the same weight because of the potential to be in an awkward or unbalanced position.
  4. Lifting above the waist or below the knee is more hazardous than lifting an object positioned in between the two.
  5. Frequency and duration of handling materials—the longer and more often you have to handle materials the more strain.

5 Environmental Factors That Increase Your Risk of Injury

  1. Shelving that is too high, low, or deep
  2. Inadequate lighting
  3. Lifting or handling material in a crowded space
  4. Working on benches or tables that force you into awkward positions
  5. Temperature

• Cold decreases the flexibility of your muscles and joints.

• Hot, humid conditions will cause you to tire more quickly and make you more susceptible to injury.

5 Tips to Prevent Injury

  1. Be trained in proper safe lifting techniques.
  2. Know the limits of what you can safely lift—everyone is different.
  3. Take appropriate rest periods when performing repetitive lifting to avoid fatigue.
  4. Make sure you are wearing properly fitted PPE, and be aware of how it may restrict your movements when lifting.
  5. Change your position to avoid lifting in awkward, unbalanced positions, or ask someone to give you a hand.

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (

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