Lifting Safety Measures
There are many tasks that may require you to lift heavy objects on the job. Although these everyday tasks may seem harmless, they have the potential to cause serious injuries that can permanently impact your life if they aren’t performed safely. Some common workplace activities that may involve lifting heavy items include:
- Refilling the copy machine or water cooler
- Stocking shelves
- Moving workplace equipment
- Carrying materials or merchandise
- Getting the mail
Overexertion and trauma are two of the most significant factors that contribute to injuries from lifting. Such injuries may include back sprains, pulled muscles, pinched nerves, fractured vertebrae and spinal problems.
To avoid these injuries, it is critical to practice adequate lifting protocols and safety measures—regardless of where you work on-site. Before you lift, take these measures to ensure you are ready to do so safely:
- Do warm-up stretches to prepare before lifting.
- Plan ahead. Be sure to note where the object is going, how much it weighs and how you will lift it.
- Make sure your work area is flat, dry and free of debris to prevent trip and fall hazards.
- Determine whether you should use dollies, carts or forklifts to assist you with larger objects. However, never work with any equipment you aren’t trained to use.
- Consider asking for help, especially if the object is awkwardly shaped or heavy.
- Wear proper personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves and back belts) for the task at hand.
When lifting, follow these steps to minimize strain on your body:
- Position yourself close to the load.
- Keep your back straight as you squat down.
- Grip the load securely and—using your legs, not your back—slowly lift.
- Set the load down slowly.
For more information on safe lifting procedures, talk to your supervisor.
Proper Fire Extinguisher Use
Once started, a fire can spread rapidly, causing significant property destruction and severe injuries. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that, on average, 16,000 fire-related injuries occur each year, with losses approaching $15 billion. However, knowing how to use a fire extinguisher on the job can help mitigate fires, prevent injuries and save lives.
In the event of a fire at our workplace, your safety is our first priority. That’s why understanding when and how to use a fire extinguisher is critical. Yet before using any fire extinguisher, it is important to assess the situation. Follow these best practices:
- Locate your exit path. Always have a plan to evacuate. If you cannot put the fire out, you will need to exit the building safely.
- Sound the fire alarm. Either identify and point someone out to make the call, or get to safety and call the fire department.
- Stand away from the fire. Put 6 to 8 feet between you and the flames at all times. Remember to keep your back to the exit.
- Use the fire extinguisher to put out the fire. Stay calm and follow the steps provided for using a fire extinguisher safely.
- Keep away from the extinguished fire. Never rush towards the fire once extinguished. Flames can flare up again once put out.
When using a fire extinguisher, remember to pull, aim, squeeze and sweep (PASS). Here’s a breakdown of these steps:
- Pull—Locate and pull the extinguisher’s pin to break the tamper seal.
- Aim—With your back to the exit, step back and aim the extinguisher low while pointing the nozzle towards the base of the fire. Never aim at the flames.
- Squeeze—Squeeze the extinguisher handle. This will release the extinguishing agent.
- Sweep—Use a sweeping motion, moving side to side, while keeping the extinguisher nozzle aimed at the base of the fire. Continue to do this until the fire goes out.
If the extinguisher is empty and the fire is still not out, evacuate immediately. Your safety is always the most important thing to remember in a fire emergency. If you have any doubts about fighting the fire, get to safety. Consult your supervisor for more information on proper fire extinguisher use in the workplace.
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