Your Safety: Everyday ergonomics

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How to lift safely

The key to avoiding painful back injuries is prevention. Lifting is the most common cause of fatigue and low back pain, at home or at work. Whenever you are lifting or carrying heavy objects, always remember to practice safe lifting techniques.

Before you lift
Identify the weight of the load - can you do it alone? Get help with heavy or awkward loads.
If the load is manageable, make sure you can lift the load without straining yourself.
Make sure the load is free to move.
Check that you have a clear pathway to the spot where you will put the load down. You could easily slip and fall on grease, oil, water or clutter.
Check that there is nothing blocking the spot where you intend to put the load.
Warm up your muscles with some gentle stretches.

As you lift
Stand close to the load, facing the direction you plan to move.
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor for good balance. Put one foot slightly forward and keep your head up.
Make sure you have a good grip on the load. Get as close to the load as possible and try not to reach for it.
Keep your arms and back straight, with your feet and body pointing in the same direction.
Tighten your stomach muscles and tuck your chin into your chest. By tightening and tucking your pelvis, you'll help keep your back in alignment while you lift.
Lift by bending at the knees, not at the waist. Keep holding your back in alignment – let the strong muscles in your thighs do the actual "lifting."
As you lift, hold the load close to your body.
Lift smoothly, without jerking.
Never twist while lifting. Instead, move one foot at a time in the direction you want to go, then turn using your leg muscles.

Follow these same, safe techniques as you put your load down. It doesn't take any more time to lift safely than to lift unsafely, so why not play it safe and lift right?

Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of back injury when caring for children:
When you’re holding infants or toddlers, avoid placing them on one hip.
Use chairs or furniture with upper back support when you’re holding or rocking children.
If you are carrying children, keep them centered on your body and use both arms to hold them.
Teach children to help you lift by holding onto your body rather than leaning away from you.
Reduce bending and lifting by storing frequently used or heavy toys, strollers and other items at waist height and in an easily accessible area.
Avoid bending down at the waist to interact with children. Use a squatting or kneeling position instead.
When sitting on the floor, support your back against a wall or some furniture.
Minimize repetitive bending and stooping when cleaning up. Make a game of tidying the play area and get children to help.
Lower the sides of a crib before lifting a child out.

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Learn more about maintaining a healthy back and the importance of good posture.

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