Back Safety & Lifting Techniques

By Scott Cuthbert
Last updated: February 3, 2024
Key Takeaways

Back safety and lifting safety moment.

Proper lifting technique is critical to back safety. But proper planning is even more important.


Before you lift that box or piece of equipment, take a moment to consider the following:

  • How heavy is the item?
  • Where are you moving it from?
  • Where does it have to go?
  • Which route do you have to follow to get it there?
  • Do you actually need to lift the item manually?

Lift with Assistance When You Can

In many cases, the item that you want to pick up could better be moved by a dolly, a hand truck, or a forklift. Use mechanical help whenever possible. After all, why put all that strain on your body when could avoid it?


When using a mechanical device:

  • Push instead of pulling (this will give you more control and better leverage)
  • Fasten the load to the equipment (otherwise, sudden stops or vibrations can jar it off)
  • Check your path before starting (remove tripping hazards and obstructions)
  • If there’s uneven or loose ground, find an alternate route

General Safe Lifting Tips

  • When the item is too large or too heavy, get someone to help you lift it
  • When picking the item up from a hard to reach spot, position yourself as close to it as possible (slide it out first if you can)
  • Give yourself as much room as you can when setting the load down
  • Make sure the are is well-lit and the path is clear of any obstacles before lifting and carrying anything
  • The shortest way isn’t always the fastest or the safest

Proper Lifting Techniques

  • Squat down instead of bending at the waist
  • Keep the item as close to you as possible
  • If you must turn, turn with your feet rather than your body
  • Never jerk or twist!
  • Put the load down by keeping your back straight and squatting down
  • Keep you feet apart, staggered if possible
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles

Reducing Risk Factors

As in all other areas of life, moderation and balance are important for the care and maintenance of your back.

Building some strength and flexibility in your body will help you minimize the risk of injury. So, exercise regularly and stretch as often as possible.

Reducing your stress levels can also help, as it relieves muscle tension that can be a contributing factor to lifting injuries.

Lifting Injuries and Cumulative Trauma

Remember that not all back injuries are the result of sudden trauma. In fact, most are cumulative, where a repeated minor injury has flared up, continued use of a heavy tool in the same position has caused pain, or a great deal of time is spent in the same position.


Keep Your Body in Good Working Condition

Lifting can be done safely, so long as you follow the right techniques.

Familiarize yourself with proper lifting form and make use of all the assistance you can – whether human or mechanical

It can take a bit of getting used to at first, but your back will thank you in the long run.

Ready to learn more? Check out our free webinar: A Comprehensive Approach to Worker Well-Being!

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Written by Scott Cuthbert | CEO & Co-Founder

Scott Cuthbert

Prevention is the best medicine! No job is 100% safe, but there is much that employers, employees and safety professionals can do to minimize and reduce the risks. This applies to our Environment, our Health and our Safety.

Also check out our LinkedIn group, Construction Health & Safety:

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