Here is a quick review of the manual material handling (MMH) rule from OSHA.

The power zone for lifting is close to the body, between mid-thigh and mid-chest height. Comparable to the strike zone in baseball, this zone is where arms and the back can lift the most with the least amount of effort.

Lifting properly is important. While there are some general lifting guidelines, a different approach may be needed for each load to be lifted. Sometimes it is appropriate to lift with the legs, and other times the back should be used to lift. These techniques depend on the size and shape of the load, and the frequency of lifting that is required.

Pushing is generally preferable to pulling. Pushing allows the employee to use large muscle groups and apply more force to the load. Pulling carries a greater risk of strain and injury.

Teaching tip with back injuries: Use your thigh muscles, which are as big as your arm. Do not use the back muscles (which surround your spine) as they are as small as your finger and very delicate.

Author: Deborah Goza, MS, RN, COHNS, CCM
Editor: Lisa Perry