Working as a tradie often involves lifting and carrying of things – from tool boxes, materials and glass panels to cabinet furniture, appliances and more.
Research by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) found 68% of tradies claim to use safe lifting and carrying techniques at work. This shows the message is getting through to some degree, but it also indicates nearly a third of tradies might not be using safe methods.
Given that nearly two-thirds of the tradies surveyed said they have been injured in their current job, and about half of those expect to be again, Tradie Health Month is a great time to re-emphasise the importance of safe lifting techniques.
Being SMART when lifting
When a deadline is looming and everyone is rushing, it can be easy to forget to use safe techniques or even to remember how they go. A rule-of-thumb for lifting and carrying is to use your legs rather than your back.
There’s a bit more to it than that however, so a good way to jolt your memory is to think S.M.A.R.T whenever you need to lift and carry.
- S – Size up the load before moving it. Decide if you will need assistance.
- M – Move the load close to the body so you can get a secure grip.
- A – Always bend at the knees, keeping your feet apart and your back straight.
- R – Raise the load using your leg muscles, not your back.
- T – Turn your feet to change direction, instead of twisting your back.
When you get to where you want to go, you should use the reverse procedure to set the object down – that is, lower it using your knees and keeping your back as straight as possible.
Being smart with lifting also means using equipment such as trolleys or wheelbarrows where necessary, rather than risking injury to your own body.
Sometimes you might also need to move objects with other people. In this case everyone involved should use the same safe lifting techniques, but the actions also need to be coordinated, so ideally one person should be designated as the coordinator or leader. This person should give verbal instructions on when to act and make sure everyone is safe and comfortable before moving the load.
Keeping safe at work
APA’s research also showed many tradies look after their tools better than their bodies. Tools can be replaced, but you can’t, so if you need to shift something and are in doubt whether you can manage it safely, then don’t risk it!
At Kennards Hire we offer a range of specialist equipment for lifting and shifting. Talk to us about hiring the right tools for safe lifting on your worksite.