As a means of preventing workplace injuries involving heavy lifting, carrying, or moving items, one must first practice safe lifting techniques, then consider devices or products to assist with these problematic activities, and finally never lift heavy items without assistance. Basic procedures for lifting, carrying, or moving heavy items include keeping the object close to one's body, keeping one's body straight, and using one's leg muscles to do the actual lifting, not back muscles.
Many material lifting devices are designed for use with large, heavy objects, but several of JAN's inquiries involve lifting activities in a small work environment like an office or stockroom. Workers are often expected to lift and move heavy boxes of computer paper, small appliances, freight parcels, or computer related items. Small but heavy items can be difficult to lift, carry, or move in confined spaces. Compact, portable lifting devices can boost productivity and reduce injuries to the worker. Two recent examples of JAN calls illustrate these points.
- An employee of a county government agency was unable to occasionally lift heavy boxes of tax records due to limitations associated with a back condition. She also felt pain when bending to lift the boxes. JAN suggested the use of the Genie Load-Lifter because it is designed to lift small but heavy items; the user is also precluded from the bending activity when using this portable lift device.
- A computer technician at a hospital was having difficulty lifting and carrying various pieces of computer components due to restrictions associated with a knee condition. JAN suggested the use of a compact, portable material lift with a flat platform that would hold the equipment in place while he made repairs at an appropriate height in relation to his knee. The same piece of equipment was useful for lifting and carrying the load to other areas of the site.
Portable, self-contained material lifting devices can be operated by one person in a variety of settings. Often these devices allow any size user to move heavy loads. Some of these lifts are operated manually, others have electric features. For more information regarding product information, prices, specifications, and vendors, visit JAN's SOAR: Compact Material Handling.