How to Properly Lift To Prevent Back Injuries

December 15, 2023

Preventing Back Injuries When Lifting on the Job

  • Don’t lift if you’re in poor physical shape.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Bend your knees. Don’t bend from your waist.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

What causes serious back injuries?

As you know, back injuries can be very painful. One cause of serious back injuries is improper lifting. Here are some examples of improper lifting:

Proper Lifting Techniques
Bending from the waist to pick up an object Lifting an object higher than chest high Twisting your body while lifting or carrying an object
Bending from the waist to pick up an object. Lifting an object higher than chest high. Twisting your body while you're lifting or carrying an object.

What is the proper way to lift?

Illustrations of Proper Lifting Technique
  • Size up the object you’ll be lifting. Stand close to the object. Check for sharp edges, nails, and other hazards. See if you think you can lift it by yourself. If not, ask for help.
  • Plan ahead for where you’re going to move the object. Make sure the path from its current location to its final destination is clear and free of hazards.
  • Get a firm footing. Check your shoes to make sure they provide good traction and that your shoelaces are tied. Part your feet to give you good balance. Then put one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Get in position. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees to lower yourself within reach of the object. Do NOT bend at the waist.
  • Get a good grip. Use both hands. Gloves that provide a good grip can be very beneficial.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back. Stand up by straightening your legs. Remember, your back should remain straight, and you should not bend at the waist. Carry the object to its new location, keeping it close to your body. Don’t bounce it around.
  • Bend your knees to set the object down. Again, be sure to keep your back straight, and do not bend at the waist.

Proper Lifting Do’s and Don’ts


  • Get a firm footing and a good grip.
  • Wear shoes with good traction.
  • Lift objects only chest high.
  • Take your time.
  • Ask for help if you need it.


  • Bend from the waist.
  • Lift objects higher than chest high.
  • Reach below your feet to pick up an object.
  • Twist your body while you’re lifting.
  • Lift an object you can’t handle alone.

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