Safe Lifting and Carrying Techniques


The following script can be used to deliver a 10- to 15-minute training session to employees. Ideally, you should demonstrate proper lifting techniques as part of your presentation. Just make sure that you know how to lift objects correctly!

The text emphasizes important points related to back injury prevention. It is suggested that you try to stay strictly on topic Obviously, you will need to be prepared to answer questions.

  • Bend to lift an object - don't stoop
  • Keep your back straight by tucking in your chin
  • Lift with the strong leg muscles, not the weaker back muscles

Improper lifting techniques are responsible for a large percentage of back injuries among agricultural workers.

Proper methods of lifting and handling protect against injury, and make work easier. You need to "think" about what you are going to do before bending to pick up an object. Over time, safe lifting technique should become a habit.

Following are the basics steps of safe lifting and handling.
  1. Size up the load and check overall conditions. Don't attempt the lift by yourself if the load appears to be too heavy or awkward. Check that there is enough space for movement, and that the footing is good. "Good housekeeping" ensures that you won't trip or stumble over an obstacle.
  2. Make certain that your balance is good. Feet should be shoulder width apart, with one foot beside and the other foot behind the object that is to be lifted.
  3. Bend (he knees; don't stoop. Keep the back straight, but not vertical. (There is a difference. Tucking in the chin straightens the back.)
  4. Grip the load with the palms of your hands and your fingers. The palm grip is much more secure. Tuck in the chin again to make certain your back is straight before starting to lift.
  5. Use your body weight to start the load moving, then lift by pushing up with the legs. This makes full use of the strongest set of muscles.
  6. Keep the arms and elbows close to the body while lifting.
  7. Carry the load close to the body. Don't twist your body while carrying the load. To change direction, shift your foot position and turn your whole body.
  8. Watch where you are going!
  9. To lower the object, bend the knees. Don't stoop. To deposit the load on a bench or shelf, place it on the edge and push it into position. Make sure your hands and feet are clear when placing the load.
Make it a habit to follow the above steps when lifting anything-even a relatively light object.

Team lifting must be coordinated

If the weight, shape, or size of an object makes the job too much for one person, ask for help.

Ideally, workers should be of approximately the same size for team lifting. One individual needs to be responsible for control of the action to ensure proper coordination. If one worker lifts too soon, shifts the load, or lowers it improperly, either they or the person working with them may be injured.

Lifting heavy objects

Safe lifting of heavy items requires training and practice. For example, we've probably all seen a small person move heavy feed sacks with apparent ease. The secret lies in taking the proper stance and grip. When equipment is available, it should be used to lift and carry heavy objects. Loaders, forklifts, hoists, etc. are made for this purpose.

Are there any questions?

Finally, let's take a moment to review some of the "Do's" and "Don'ts" of safe lifting and carrying.


Tuck in the chin to keep the back as straight as possible while lifting.

Lift with the strong leg muscles.

Ask for help with the heavy, awkward items.

When possible, use mechanical equipment to move heavy items.

Use your back muscles to do lifting.

Try to lift an item that is too heavy of awkward.

Twist your body while carrying an object.

Attempt team lifting without proper coordination.

The information and recommendations contained in this publication are believed to be reliable and representative of contemporary expert opinion on the subject material. The farm safety Association Inc. does not guarantee absolute accuracy or sufficiency of subject material, nor can it accept responsibility for health and safety recommendations that may have been omitted due to particular and exceptional conditions and circumstances. Copyright @ 2000

Farm Safety Association Inc.
22-340 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1H 7K6 (519) 823-5600

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More