By Jena Williams

Most ergonomists will probably agree that it is. You see, there is no guaranteed safe weight to lift.

There are so many factors involved in each scenario:

  • Weight of object.
  • Size of object.
  • Shape of object.
  • Starting point of lift (ground, waist, shoulder, over-head etc.)
  • Ending point of lift (ground, waist, shoulder, over-head.)
  • Body positioning.
  • Strength of human.
  • Health of human.
  • Size of human.
  • Stability of ground surface.
  • Repetition of lift.
  • Daily workload strain on body.
  • Previous day’s workload strain on body.

I could go on.

As imperfect as the science in regard to lifting is, there are some tools that can help make lifting safer. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and Oregon OSHA teamed up to develop this app to guide lift planning and training. It’s a great demonstration of the various elements that impact strain on your body.

Whenever possible, reduce the need to lift and carry by using mechanical devices such as hand trucks to move materials. Items that are moved often should be stored a height that is easy to grab, such as at waist level, and kept as close to the destination as possible.

Also position your body as close to the object as possible. The combination of reaching and lifting adds considerable force to the lift.

Can you see the ground when you are carrying? If not, walk the path without the object to make sure it’s clear of debris or other obstacles.

Have you developed any work-arounds to minimize or eliminate lifts at your company? Please share your insight in the comments below.

Link to app: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/Ergonomics/ServicesResources/Tools/default.asp