Lifting and transporting small and large items under one’s own steam is part of the workday for many people. As long as it’s small, easily handled goods with low or consumable weight, a lot of people might not even notice the task being done. But as soon as the goods are a bit heavier it’s important to be aware of how you are lifting and carrying them – and where they are placed.
– "Unfortunately, bad manual handling is the reason behind a large amount of our reports of sickness and absence from work. Both individuals and companies suffer for it" says Anna Johansson, ergonomist and licensed physiotherapist in Halmstad, Sweden.
No matter the type of work we handle a lot of items during the day – both lightweight and heavy. Early in life we learn that it’s best to lift close to the body and use leg force, but we can also think over how we lift beyond that. For example, is there a colleague close by that could help with a heavy lift?
Understand your movements
Anna Johansson visits a lot of workplaces in order to oversee way of work and organization together with companies and workers. Her aim is to create a sustainable and healthy work environment for every employee.
-"Simple changes in the way of work and finding the right appliances can simplify demanding and challenging tasks. Often, the trick is to analyse how we actually do things and understand what we can change", says Anna Johansson.
Use assisting tools
There can be a lot of unawareness of what type of assisting tools that exists. Preferably, you should avoid carrying things around as much as possible. Use a trolley instead, and make sure it’s adapted to the size and weight of the object and is fitted with casters customized to the floor of the workspace.
-"We often work with a high strain on our back, shoulders etc. in situations where we could easily reduce the strain, explains Anna Johansson. In order to avoid damages you should push or drag heavy objects with, for instance, a trolley".
Put things in the right place, lift in the right way
The flow and placement of items on shelves are a key consideration. The most used items or the heaviest items should be placed on a easily accessible level, while lightweight items or more rarely used items can be placed on the top or bottom of the shelving.
Don’t forget to think about where you leave goods and items. Lifting below knee height puts more pressure on the back and knees!
–"If you leave something on the floor your colleague who fetches it later will have to bend down, which wears more than necessary" Anna Johansson points out.
Ergonomically designed workspace
It is possible to design the workspace more ergonomically in order to make lifting easier. For example, it’s important that there is enough room to lift without having to twist around and that everyone knows how the appliances work.
– "Look over how and where your lifting tool should be used. It should be suited to the work task, work environment and the workers. How heavy do we want to be able to lift, how large packages and what does the surrounding look like? Investments in ergonomics are profitable for both health and economy", Anna Johansson finishes.