In the past I’ve blogged about when my father managed a Culligan Soft Water branch. I remember watching the workers (like Gary and Big John!) move the 150# water softener tanks from the regeneration area onto the big trucks for the next step which is to drive to their customers’ locations.
Growing up, we (mostly my brother Steven & I) played games on the shop dollies!
I remember watching the workers unload the tanks and bags of salt off the truck, maneuver the tanks onto a dolly, then push or pull the load to the customer’s house. They then donned a heavy strap across their bodies, and carried the tanks down a flight of steps into a basement. I was enthralled with that process!
These work tasks took strength and intelligence in how to best carry and maneuver a large and heavy object. The worker would then take the tanks that needed to go to the shop for regeneration back up the steps. Then the bags of salt would follow, into the home, and be emptied in to the tanks. Then on to the next stop for the route drivers. And they would repeat the process throughout the day.
Nowadays the tanks and the bags of salt are about ½ the weight, which leads me to my topic for this blog – lifting….at work.
I study the topic of lifting at work
I’m not very big, nor very tall, and I really don’t know how much I can lift safely because all lifts involve time, place, setting and purpose! Yes, being a petite person ~ I’m 5’2″ with small wrists, I’ve learned many different ways to get want I want or need without heed to any physical challenge. I also exercise regularly and if I realize the object to lift is too heavy, I either get help or get smart!
I can improvise to get something off a high shelf (use a yard stick). I can figure out how to move something that weighs twice my weight (eg: a filled bookcase) with the use of furniture sliders). I can break any heavy item apart to make it lighter! Any person can lift objects and loads that are heavy…..using mostly brain power and not any brawn power!
Brain over Brawn!
I’ve been trained how to perform a job analysis prior to preparing a job description. I have reviewed and critiqued many a job description. Here are my educated thoughts about a job description that lists the physical demands [of a job] requiring a worker to lift up to 50 pounds (or any other weight).
When I am helping a job seeker who has a lifting limitation, say of 25 pounds, there are considerations to assess prior to including a job(s) that may call for lifting more than, say 25 pounds.
Did you know ants can lift 20 times their own body weight?
The following considerations are taken into account when assessing whether or not a person can safely lift at work (or anywhere for that matter!):
- Size and strength of the worker
- Load – what actually needs to be lifted? and why?
- The weight of object handled
- The muscle force applied by the worker to do physical lifting
- Posture – the postures adopted to lift the object
- Environment – the workplace, the conditions, for example, slippery floors, walking up steps, restricted space to work in, lighting and the ability to get a good grip on the object.
- Time – the amount of time that is spent doing the lifting – or the number of repetitions of an action each day.
- Research and identify what accommodations are in place or could be in place to allow the job to be performed efficiently and safely
- Workplace layout – the amount of moving of the objects required
- Equipment – what is available, or could be used, to help move the load?
It’s very important to always take time to specifically address what needs to be moved, where it is to be moved, and why……and then be smart about the lifting process. Think about how any heavy or ackward lifting can be accomplished in a smarter manner.
Think about the load!
Let me know what I can do to help you with returning to work!
My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.