Safety Up! On Lifting Techniques

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Working on a farm isn’t child’s play, as people can get seriously injured or even die in severe cases. Think of all the pulling, hoisting, shoveling, bending, loading and lifting that are involved on a daily basis on a farm. The strain and stress that manual labour can place on the human body should not be underestimated, as many labourers complain of debilitating back problems, muscles sprains and torn ligaments that require months—if not years—of painful rehabilitation and surgeries. The sad truth is estimates suggest that a large percentage of back injuries on farms are caused by improper lifting techniques, and nearly a third of all worker’s compensation claims are based on back injuries.

Tips for safe lifting techniques

There’s good news, however, as planning ahead can save a lot of heartache; the key to this is to properly train yourself on how to do the job well before you even do it. Identifying hazards and learning how to either eliminate or avoid them is also crucial. Here, we provide some proper lifting techniques to help prevent injuries while working.

Lift Without Using Your Back

Learning to lift without using your back will help prevent many injuries. Set aside your ego and ask someone for help if a load is very heavy or simply awkward to lift by yourself. Ensure that you have the sufficient training to learn how to to lift heavy objects properly, and put those techniques into practice on a regular basis so that you don’t forget or lose touch. Have you ever watched those Natural Geographic documentaries that showcase frail and tiny women lift massive feed bags with seemingly supernatural ease?

In reality, these amazing women don’t have superpowers but have mastered the perfect lifting technique. In other words, the key isn’t having the most upper body strength but in getting the best grip as well as taking the proper stance before lifting. Remember that working should be seen as a job and not as a competition. Ask for help if needed and save yourself from potentially career-ending injuries.

Avoid Heavy Lifting Hazards

In most cases, working on a farm will involve a myriad of different tasks, most of which will put great strain on the body. With so much work to be done and so little time to do it most workers simply won’t take the time to acknowledge the safety hazards that each task entails before they perform it. If you don’t take the time to think about what you are doing, as well as slow down, you may end up severely injuring your lower back. For instance, you may end up pulling a muscle by lifting hundreds of pounds of wood over a few hours without taking proper breaks or by not learning how to lift and unload wood or hay bales properly.

The general rule of thumb is to be careful when lifting anything that weighs between 10% and 15% of your body weight; in most cases, this will be about 30 pounds. Repeated lifting will also cause problems, as the wear and tear will start to have a toll on your body, regardless of how heavy the objects you are lifting are. Furthermore, check your body posture before you lift heavy objects to ensure you got your positioning right, which is even more important to factor in when lifting heavy objects for a long period of time. You should also watch out for falls and slips on the job, and take precautions when performing an activity for a prolonged period of time, which may include operating a vehicle, especially if it vibrates. Finally, there are other hazards to watch out for that don’t include lifting, such as squatting, bending, kneeling, twisting, operating equipment that vibrates and forcefully gripping objects.

Proper Team Lifting Techniques

If the size, shape, and/or weight of an object is too difficult for one worker to handle on their own then they should ask their co-workers to lend them a helping hand. Also, it is generally advised to ask workers who are similar in size when team lifting is involved. Moreover, to ensure proper coordination one of the farmers should be responsible for action control. Take the time to work together, so that improper load shifting and lowering don’t transpire, and do not make any of the workers lift the load prematurely in order to reduce the risk of injury.

In addition, you can help maintain your back in an optimally erect position by tucking in your chin before you lift a heavy object. You should also use your strong leg muscles to lift items, and, if the equipment is available, then use heavy lifting equipment whenever possible to help reduce the likelihood of bodily injuries. That is, hoists, forklifts and loaders were specifically designed to take care of loading and lifting, so try and use them if they are at your disposal.

Finally, you should try and lift as close to your body as you can, keeping reach to a minimum in the process. You should also alternate lifting jobs with other tasks, and you should also exercise on a regular basis to keep your body in prime working condition. A pre-work warm-up to prevent muscle atrophy also wouldn’t hurt and may encourage others to follow your example.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you are wholly responsible for your own personal safety. When you take the time and energy to learn how to properly handle heavy objects, you will potentially save yourself from serious injury or even death. Remember to think before you act, and don’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you are concerned about potentially hurting yourself. If you let your ego take over you may injure yourself long-term, forcing other workers to pick up the slack. When properly implemented, the proper safety lifting techniques can allow you to have a long and productive career, safe from painful surgeries and injuries.

For more information about worker safety, call Truck Loan Center at 1-866-230-0094 or contact us here.


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