Modern technology and equipment makes warehouse work faster, more efficient, and safe. But, as great as forklifts and automatic dock levers are, there are still times when a person has to physically step in and do some old fashioned manual labor.
Often, this means lifting and carrying which involves a lot of bending, leaning over while putting strain on the legs, neck, and of course, the back.
Despite everything we know about the human body, back pain remains a constant source of problems for many Americans. In fact, over 75% of people will experience legitimate back pain in their lifetime.
Some are simply prone to back pain, but most can lessen it (if not avoid it all together) simply by following proper form.
So today, we wanted to take a moment to highlight proper lifting form in the warehouse. You’ve probably heard most of this before, but a reminder certainly never hurt anyone.
Proper Lifting in the Warehouse
1. When You Can, Use Equipment
Seriously, the equipment is there for a reason. When you can, take advantage of the tools and equipment you have at your warehouse, whether it’s a forklift, a pallet jack, a cart, or a dolly, use it.
Don’t let your ego get in the way.
I’m a man, you’ll say. Men don’t need carts or dollies.
The truth is, using a dolly is a lot more manly than limping around while holding your back, unable to pick anything up off the ground. Think about the long term. Go easy on your body.
2. Know Your Limits
It doesn’t matter how fit you are; the human body has its limits. You can only lift so much. Your back can only take so much strain. Every time you push that limit, you greatly increase the chance of injury.
If you’re afraid that something might be too heavy for you to handle, there’s a good chance that it is. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You just might need it.
3. Get Low, Bend Your Knees
Now we’re to the actual lifting part. If you’re picking something up that’s low or on the ground, you want to make sure to get on its level.
Bend your knees and drop your butt down low.
4. Keep Your Back Straight
Whether the object you’re picking up is on the ground or at waist height, keep your back straight when you’re lifting. Your back is one of the most flexible parts of your body. That’s why it’s also the most susceptible to injury.
Strength and support are sacrificed in exchange for that flexibility. Therefore, don’t lift with your back. Instead….
5. Lift with Your Legs
This is probably the most well known lifting advice. It’s said time and again, and yet, people still have a hard time following it. Your legs were designed to extend. They are built to carry loads (like yourself). Use them for their purpose.
6. Don’t Twist or Turn
Your bodies natural position is to face forward. That means you have the most power and balance when you are in a straight, upright position. The second you begin to turn your body, you throw off your center of balance, opening your body to serious injury.
Don’t turn with your back, your arms, or your shoulders. Turn and pivot with your feet and make sure the rest of the body follows.
7. Make Sure You Can See Over the Load
It’s important to know where you’re going. Make sure you can always see over the load you are carrying. You might have to make more trips, but it’s worth it.
8. Get Yourself Some Insoles
Okay, this one might not tie directly into lifting, but it affects all the same areas. Lifting can be hard on your back and your feet. Insoles in return can greatly help out both your back and your feet.
If you suffer from feet, back, or leg pain despite following proper lifting form, you might be surprised by the difference a good pair of insoles make.