DePaul University Environmental Health and Safety > Ergonomics > Back Safety > Good Lifting

Good Lifting

Assess the situation prior to lifting or moving an object:

  • Is there equipment you can use to move the object (e.g. a hoist or hand truck)?

Use available equipment to safely move the object.

Is the object too heavy to lift by yourself?

  • Lift one of the corners to assess the object’s weight.
  • Determine if the object can be disassembled.
  • Recruit additional people to help you.
  • When in doubt, don’t lift the object without assistance.
  • Is the object too awkward to carry?

Do not lift the object without assistance if it is too awkward to carry.

  • How far do you have to carry the object?

Seek assistance if you have to carry loads for a long distance.

  • Is the path that you will carry the object free of debris, obstacles, and stairs?
  • Is the surface of the path safe (i.e. not slippery)?
  • Do not attempt to carry loads across unsafe surfaces.
  • Will your view be obscured while carrying the object?
  • Do not attempt to carry loads if you cannot see where you are going.

Use proper lifting technique.

  • If lifting by hand, use the "Power Position”
    • Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart, one foot slightly in front of the other,
    • Bend your knees slightly,
    • Your seat should be out a lot,
    • Press your chest forward – maintain the neutral spinal curvature,
    • Keep your head up,
    • Get good grip on the object,
    • Contract the abdominal muscles,
    • Hold the object close to your body,
    • USE YOUR LEGS, NOT YOUR BACK to lift the object,
    • Lift the object with a smooth, non-jerky movement.
  • Carry the object
    • Avoid twisting movements. Use your legs to turn, not your back.
    • Hold the object close to your body at waist level,
    • If needed, set the object down to rest.
  • Lower the object
    • Contract your abdominal muscles and maintain the normal spinal curvature.
    • Hold the object close to the body
    • While looking forward, bend your knees and slowly lower the object
  • Additional Lifting/Handling Tips:
    • Take frequent breaks to interrupt repetitive lifting.
    • Use a stool or ladder to reach loads that are above your shoulders. Get as close to the load as you can and slide the load toward you. Do the work with your arms and legs, not your back.
    • Take extra care with loads under racks or cabinets. Pull the load toward you. Try to support the load on one knee before you lift. Use your legs to power the lift.
    • Slide objects instead of lifting and carrying them.
    • Push objects instead of pulling them.
    • Use hand trucks and push carts to assist with moving an object. For extremely heavy objects, have an authorized forklift operator use a forklift to move the object.