Lifting heavy boxes is an unavoidable part of putting your belongings in a storage unit. It’s also risky. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that about 20% of work injuries are due to heavy lifting, and we’re willing to bet a lot of these type of injuries happen off the clock too.The good news is that by following simple lifting rules, you can greatly reduce your risk of getting hurt.
Here are ten steps to follow when lifting, and moving, a heavy box.
Make sure there is a clear path between the location of the box and the destination. The last thing you want is to stumble or even trip over something, and it’s difficult to watch your step while carrying a heavy box.
Have some idea of how much the box weighs. If you’ve packed a box, you probably have some idea of how much it weighs, even if you can’t articulate it in pounds.
Keep your legs apart, straddling the front of the box. You don’t want the box too far away from you. The goal is to lift it as straight up as you can. The legs-apart stance gives you a strong base.
Squat and keep your back straight. Your legs are stronger than your arms or back, and they need to do the lifting. By keeping your back straight, you help to protect your back muscles and spine.
Grip the bottom of the box or the handles tightly. It’s important to have a good hold so the box won’t slip and fall.
Lift with your legs. This is important enough to mention more than once. Stand up and let your legs do the lifting, keeping your back and arms straight.
Hold the box against your body around waist level. Your arms may bend slightly at the elbow, but shouldn’t bend much.
Turn using your legs. Do not twist your body. This, too, will protect your arms, back, and spine. Turn in the direction you want to go, and walk forward.
Walk slowly and smoothly. Quick or jerky movements can damage your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bones.
Set the box down by squatting. Placing it on the ground, table, or another box, then let go and step back.
Once you get the hang of lifting boxes, the process is easy. You’ll still want to be aware of what you’re doing for the entire process, every time you move a heavy box, so don’t lose focus just because you know what you’re doing. It’s all about doing it right and maintaining body awareness. If you do get hurt moving heavy boxes, see a doctor.
If, for whatever reason, you lack the strength to lift heavy boxes, or you have back or joint issues that prevent you from doing so safely, get help, and make sure your helpers know how to lift boxes properly.