How much is too much to lift?

Image from WorkSafeBC's Lift/Lower Calculator

Image from WorkSafeBC’s Lift/Lower Calculator

It depends on many factors – which I read about in the June 2013 Ergonomic Enews from WorkSafeBC.

“The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation does not specify a maximum weight that a person can lift. Instead, the Regulation requires that where significant risk of MSI exists, a task be assessed.”

WorkSafeBC’s Tools for Ergonomic Assessments helps employers who need to assess manual handling tasks. I talked with senior ergonomist Peter Goyert, of WorkSafeBC, about how employers can use the tools to fulfil their responsibility and be in compliance with the WorkSafeBC Regulation.

“Employers need to determine level of risk, and eliminate the risk, or minimize it as much as possible,” Peter said, describing one of the tools.

“The calculator shows low, medium, high – and if it’s high, they have to do something.”

He’s talking about the Lift/Lower Calculator for determining a maximum weight load. Users enter data such as

* How much is the actual weight you are lifting or lowering?
* Where are your hands when the lift or lower is most awkward?
* Do you twist your body more than 45 degrees during the lift or lower?
* How many lifts or lowers per minute?

Fillable worksheets are also available, along with videos and other resources for employers, supervisors, and workers. Lifting is the number one cause of injury to young workers – about 950 incidents per year in BC.

“Injuries incurred include sprains, strains, and tears associated with lifting boxes, crates, bags, buckets, pallets, lumber, and structural metal materials. A significant number of these injuries are sustained by material handlers, retail and grocery sales clerks, labourers, and shippers and receivers,” reads WorkSafeBC’s Know the hazards, which includes the Top 7 injuries to young workers.

I hope people will check out these tools – and use them – because no one needs to get taken down by back pain that is so preventable.


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