Practicing proper lifting form (toolbox talk)

At work, individuals are responsible for knowing their own limits, especially when it comes to handling heavy materials. But in the rush of the day, it’s easy for anyone to forget the right technique to follow. That’s why regular refreshers are necessary for keeping safety top of mind. Use the information in this proper lifting toolbox talk to help your team avoid musculoskeletal injuries.

Proper lifting toolbox talk overview

In this toolbox talk, we’ll cover the following topics:

  • Dangers of improper lifting
  • Safe lifting techniques
  • Risk assessment before lifting

The key to proper lifting, and personal safety in general, is having awareness—awareness of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

Safety risks of poor lifting form

The three main injury risks of poor lifting form are musculoskeletal injuries, falls or trips, and back or joint pain due to repetitive damage.

These injuries can happen quickly as the result of one bad lift. And sometimes, pinched nerves and pulled muscles can become long-lasting issues that you have to deal with.

Proper lifting is the only way to prevent ergonomic injuries, and it all comes down to your behavior. Each lift should be thoughtful and calculated to ensure the smallest possibility of injury.

Safe lifting techniques to follow

Unlike other areas of workplace safety, lifting is almost completely down to personal safety. You need to make sure you use proper form and technique to complete the lift safely. Here are some tips of what to do:

  • Clear the area of any potential trip hazards before you make a heavy lift.
  • Use mechanical aids like pallet jacks and dollies when needed.
  • As you lift, keep the object close to your body and keep your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Engage your core muscles and keep a straight back during the lift.
  • Use your legs to support the weight of the load, not your back.
  • Never twist your torso when turning, instead pivot your feet and point them in the right direction.

Assessing the risks first

You must assess the lift before making it. Evaluate the weight and shape of the object to figure out the best game plan.

It’s important to recognize when something’s outside of your safe lifting capacity. There’s no shame in asking for help, but it’s best to do it before you try.

If you do happen to have back pain while lifting, you should stop immediately and let management know. Oftentimes, back pain can be treated and solved relatively quickly. But unreported issues can get worse over time, so don’t take any chances.