The Safety Net

Safe Lifting

Introduction
Staff persons working with persons with limited mobility must learn sound body mechanics in order to safely assist an individual. When lifting, transferring or simply assisting an individual, there is risk to both the person being assisted and to the person doing the assisting! Good lifting and transfer techniques can save the caregiver and the consumer from needless stress and possible injury.

Before You Begin

  • Communicate with the person who needs assistance. Let them know what to expect and consider the feelings and wishes of the individual.
  • Make sure that you have all the needed equipment and supplies and that you have enough room to safety lift or transfer the consumer.
  • Find out if there are specific techniques to be used that are unique for the individual.
  • Get help if the plan calls for it and never try lifting alone if the person weighs more than fifty (50) pounds. If you have any doubt about the weight of an individual or your ability to lift, get help!
  • If using equipment, check it beforehand to ensure that it is clean, has all of its component parts, and is in working order.
  • Be sure that all wheels are locked on wheelchairs or other equipment before you begin to lift or transfer.

Safe Lifting

  • Get a good base of support by spreading your legs slightly apart and keeping your back in alignment.
  • Bend your legs at the knees and hips (squat) and let your strong leg muscles do the work.
  • Keep the person being lifted close to your body as you lift them.
  • Turn your body in the direction of the lift. Never twist the torso without moving the feet.

Avoiding Injury

  • Avoid shoulder injury to the person being lifted by never grasping the person under the armpits.
  • Avoid neck injury to the person doing the lifting by never allowing the person being lifted to hold you around the neck.
  • Avoid back injury to the lifter by moving your whole body in the direction of the lift. Do not twist your back.
  • Avoid injury by being aware of loose jewelry that may get caught in clothing or hair as you lift, long fingernails that may scratch the person being lifted, and shoes that do not provide adequate support.

Summary
Service providers should make every effort to see that staff who may have to lift people are trained. While this may not be mandatory training, it will provide an extra measure of security to avoid injury to staff and consumers during lifting.

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