As some of my clients will know, I’m currently training for a trek to Everest Base Camp in March and April. This necessarily involves a LOT of walking plus gym work to build cardiovascular endurance, stamina and strength in my back and legs. I’ve been a regular gym goer for almost 40 years, plus I’m a judo coach and former Royal Navy field gunner so I like to think I know a little about how to lift safely and effectively.
So I was in the gym earlier today and, being January, noted there were a few unfamiliar faces. But it wasn’t the faces that I really noted; it was the truly awful lifting technique that really caught my attention.
So many people appear not to know how to lift correctly. I see guys lifting from the waist, with a rounded back, lifting weights that they would struggle to lift even if they were fit and using good technique. Not only will this type of lifting leave them sore tomorrow, but they also run the very real risk of sustaining a serious back injury that will prevent them from training, and for that matter doing just about anything else, for some considerable time.
According to HSE statistics for 2016/17, 0.5 million people are suffering from a new or long standing work-related musculoskeletal disorder. A large percentage of these will be caused by poor lifting technique. Injuries such a prolapsed discs and hernias are sadly far from uncommon and cause a great deal of pain, suffering and loss of earnings.
You see, I would applaud anyone who wants to start the year afresh and get fit, but they need to be mindful of the fact that lifting loads with poor technique will inevitably lead to an injury. Not only does this apply in the gym, but, of course, it also applies to loads lifted in the workplace.
To avoid injury, whether it is in the workplace, at home, or in the gym, follow these simple tips:
- Never lift more than you can comfortably manage
- Read number 1 again
- Position yourself behind the load, facing your intended direction of travel
- Test the weight first, before you try to lift it. Read number 1 again.
- BEND. YOUR. KNEES.
- Get a good grip on the load so it doesn’t slip out of your hands
- KEEP. YOUR. BACK. STRAIGHT
- Stay on balance and lift using the big muscles in the legs. DO. NOT. LIFT. WITH. YOUR. BACK (or your ego).
It’s not that hard, so please lift properly. If you don’t know how to lift properly, ask someone to show you! A little training goes a long way and will help to ensure that you stay fit for life and for work. After all, you only have one back, so look after it.
Did you know that manual handling is covered in our ever-popular three-day IOSH Managing Safely course, along with many other important and useful topics? Why not contact us for more information to help your business start the year on a safe and healthy note.