Last updated: September 30, 2020

What Does Lifting Mean?

Lifting refers to the act of moving something from a position on a lower surface to a higher one. For example, a person might lift a box from the floor to a shelf. In the workplace, the act of lifting may be performed by a person or a machine. In some instances, an individual worker may use a tool or powered device to aid him or her in lifting an item.

When lifting unassisted, an individual may exert effort across several of his or her large muscle groups, particularly his or her arms and legs.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Lifting

When performed by an individual, lifting is considered one type of manual material handling (MMH) as the item is usually held in the person's hands. Improper lifting technique, or failure to observe safety protocols while lifting, is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries.

Injuries can occur when a worker attempts to lift an item that is too heavy without assistance. Other risks include not preparing a safe space to place the item prior to lifting. For instance, an item placed on an uneven shelf can slip and fall, landing on the lifter or another worker. Carrying a large object that blocks the carrier's view or a lack of visibility while lifting can also lead to accidents. Additionally, awkward posture and attempting to hold an item outside of what is known as the power zone can cause musculoskeletal strain or injuries.

Many health and safety authorities, including the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), provide rules and guidelines for safe lifting practices to help employees avoid lifting-related injuries.


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