A Guide To Heavy Lifting
Heavy lifting, and we are not talking about the gym variety, might be part of your day to day job or perhaps simply a one off requirement every now and then. Whether you are moving furniture, stacking shelves or working in the garden, heavy lifting can cause injury if not performed with the upmost care. Poor technique or an unstable position can easily cause injuries such as pulled muscles and potentially even longer term damage.
Firstly, heavy lifting encapsulates a wide variety of tasks and so it is important to establish exactly what you are planning to move and how you are planning to do it. Heavy lifting may refer to a number of manual handling tasks, from pulling and pushing to picking up, carrying and letting down. The nature of your lift will determine how you are to perform it.
The size, shape and mass of your load are equally important factors in determining how you are going to perform the lift. Is it small enough for a single person to lift, or will you need assistance from another person or even a lifting mechanism? This article offers guidance on how to perform manual lifting, as well as employ the use of some common lifting mechanisms.
Unless the load is over around 25kg, an unusual shape or needs to be placed in a high or out of reach place, a manual lift will suffice. Most lifting jobs will fall under this category and it is arguably the easiest to perform incorrectly.
Firstly, plan the route you are going to take once the load is lifted. Take a neutral stance, with feet roughly shoulder width apart and squat down, keeping your core tensed and your back in a naturally straight position. Take hold of the object with a firm grip and stand up slowly, taking the load through your legs. Carefully walk with the object, avoiding any twisting movements, before placing it down, again squatting down and keeping your back in a neutral straight position. If possible, ask a friend or colleague to guide you to the target position if the load is difficult to see past.
If you are lifting at work and feel there may be a risk of injury ask your employer to fill in a risk assessment form to minimise the chances.
Lifting Using Apparatus
If the load is too heavy or too large to lift manually, the job may be more suited for a lifting sling. These come in a variety of shapes or sizes and can be attached to a pulley, telehandler or small crane. If a sling is not appropriate, a forklift may more up to the job. It is most likely that lifts of this sort will be performed at work, unless of course you have a small crane at home that is.
Before performing the lift, it is important to note that lifting machines such as forklifts or telehandlers should only be operated by a person with relevant training.
The first thing to establish is where the load will be transported. Ensure the route is clear of obstacles and pedestrians for the duration of the lift. The view of the lifting machine’s operator should not be obscured at all.
Next, decide how to pick up the load with the slings or forklift. If using a forklift, the load will need to be securely stacked onto pallets. Slings can either be wrapped around the load or attached using eyebolts. If using the latter option, be sure to check the rated capacity of the bolt to ensure it is capable of meeting the requirements of the lift.
Once attached, carefully manoeuvre the load using the lifting apparatus to the desired location. Ensure pedestrians are kept clear of the apparatus, the operator has a clear view of his surroundings and a spotter is used to guide the transportation.
Set the load down carefully and remove the attachments. Once again, if you feel you or anyone else is at risk of injury by completing the lift, ask your employer to fill out the relevant health and safety assessment.