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Practice proper lifting techniques

Proper lifting techniques not only protect property from being dropped and damaged, but more importantly, they can protect your employees from injury. Strains, sprains and other injuries are too common and are often preventable with the proper knowledge and training.

In addition to preventing injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect workers from recognized workplace hazards and to comply with OSHA standards. This may apply to preventing injuries caused by lifting and moving items during employment. Read more about Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace on OSHA’s website.

Eliminating or reducing the need to lift objects is a preferred method of reducing employee injuries. In your workplace setting, however, lifting items may be necessary.

If you need to lift items, you should follow these steps:


  1. Wear the right clothes for the job, including the proper footwear.

  2. Assess the weight of the item you are about to lift and ensure you can comfortably lift it without straining.

  3. If the weight of the item is outside your capabilities, consult with a co-worker or supervisor before attempting to lift.

  4. Know where you are taking the item and ensure a safe path to your destination.

  5. Stretch and loosen your back prior to lifting. This is especially important if you have been stationary for a significant amount of time.

  6. Repetitive and sustained motions cause more injuries, so if you need a break from lifting, ask a co-worker or supervisor for help.


  1. Stand close to the item.

  2. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart.

  3. Squat down to pick the item up and do not bend your back.

  4. Keep your body position neutral, while lifting with your legs.

  5. Use a free hand, if available, to push up on a secure supporting structure –chair, desk, etc.

  6. Avoid twisting by lifting straight up into a standing position.

  7. Use your leg and abdominal muscles to avoid strain on your back.


  1. Keep the item close to your body.

  2. Keep your body position neutral, while walking and bearing the weight with your legs.

  3. Do not twist as you move – keep your body in a neutral position.

  4. Take small, slow steps.

  5. Ensure the path remains clear of any slip, trip and fall hazards.

Set Down

  1. Don’t bend at the back.

  2. Squat or kneel to lower yourself into position.

  3. Continue to engage your abdominal and leg muscles as you slowly lower the item.

For employers, consider implementing lessons relating to ergonomics in your professional development schedule that allow employees to train and practice safe lifting practices during new employee orientation and onboarding. To ensure proper lifting practices are continued, consider providing quarterly training for all employees/volunteers and including proper lifting observations in your employee supervision and evaluation process.

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