Moving objects like furniture, appliances, boxes and heavy equipment requires caution. Improper techniques and lack of preparation can lead to serious injury risks. This article provides useful safety tips to follow when moving heavy or large items.
Assess the Weight and Bulk
Before moving anything, assess the weight and dimensions. This will determine the equipment and manpower needed to move it safely.
Estimate the Weight
- For large furniture like sofas, beds and cabinets, check the specifications to find the weight.
- Weigh smaller objects like boxes on a scale to estimate if they are manageable.
- Consider awkward shapes that make bulky items heavier to move than their actual weight.
- Measure objects to move like mattresses, appliances and pianos to ensure they fit through doors, hallways and stairs.
- Check for removable parts like legs and doors that can be detached to fit through narrow spaces.
- Consider if special handling is required for extra long, tall or wide items.
Gather Help or Use Equipment
Get adequate assistance or use specialized moving equipment based on weight and size.
- Move heavy objects as a team by coordinating and communicating clearly.
- Lift, balance and set down the load together on one count.
- Have one person lead and direct the rest.
Use Moving Equipment
- Use a hand truck or dolly for smaller heavy objects under 500 lbs.
- Furniture sliders or glides help move heavy pieces over floors easily.
- A pallet jack assists with heavy warehouse loads on pallets.
- Consider a forklift for loads over 500 lbs like stacks of material.
Prepare a Clear Pathway
Clear a path before moving items so you can maneuver safely without obstacles and tripping risks.
- Measure doorways, stairs, halls and elevators to ensure items fit through.
- Check for low ceilings, overhangs and protruding objects in the route.
- Determine if doors need to be removed to fit large items through.
- Clear walking areas and stairs of clutter like boxes and small furniture.
- Tuck away or cover cords, carpets and rugs to prevent tripping or snagging.
- Open doors fully and ensure they stay open with stoppers.
Handle Narrow Spaces
- Remove doors if needed to widen narrow doorways and landings.
- Use dollies and furniture sliders to navigate stairs.
- Slide large objects around corners and pivots. Do not carry around.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Follow ergonomic guidelines when lifting and carrying to prevent strains and injuries:
- Warm up muscles with stretches before lifting.
- Get close to the load to avoid reaching and over-extension.
- Place feet shoulder-width apart for balanced stance.
- Squat down keeping back straight to grasp object close to body.
- Let leg muscles do the work as you stand up gradually.
- Avoid twisting – turn whole body together.
- Carry load close to body and look ahead.
Set Down Safely
- Bend knees to lower object while maintaining a straight back.
- Avoid bending over or reaching out which strains the back.
- Slide bulky objects into position.
Use Safe Techniques for Special Items
Certain objects present unique risks and require specific handling:
- Tilt furniture when maneuvering through tight spaces.
- Lift sofas, cabinets and tables by the bottom not the handles. Handles detach easily.
- Do not move loaded bookcases – empty shelves first to lighten.
- Tape appliance doors and lids like washers, ovens and dishwashers shut.
- Ensure appliances do not contain hazards like flammable or chemical residue before transport.
- Avoid tilting appliances back which can damage components.
- Remove drawers from cabinets and desks to lighten before moving.
- Cover printers, copiers and computers with padding and transport upright.
- Secure machine parts like scanner lids which can shift and break during movement.
- Always move TVs, monitors, and screens vertically – laying flat can damage internal parts.
- Carefully carry components like CPUs, hard drives, printers to prevent jarring delicate internal mechanisms.
- Coordinate multiple people to lift by the wooden frame, not the keyboard.
- Watch for doorway moldings catching and tearing ivories. Use furniture sliders.
- Only professional piano movers should hoist by piano harnesses for overhead lifting.
Work Slowly and Take Breaks
Rushing when moving heavy objects can lead to accidents. Take it slowly:
- Move at a controlled, methodical pace – rushing risks injury and damage.
- Do not force objects through tight squeezes. Readjust if objects get stuck.
- Take regular breaks about every 15-20 mins during long moves to recover grip strength.
- Stop immediately if you feel pain, numbness or tingling while lifting and carrying.
Use Caution on Stairs and Slopes
Exercise great care when moving items on stairs:
- Carrying large loads blocks your vision. Have a helper guide you.
- Move one step at a time for better footing. Do not rush or dash downstairs.
- Place feet near the edges of steps for more stability.
- Install temporary railing if no banister exists.
- Use extra tie-downs and securing if using ramps.
Stay Hydrated and Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to signs of fatigue and overexertion:
- Drink water regularly even if not thirsty. Dehydration strains muscles.
- Do not attempt to move on a full stomach – avoid big meals prior.
- Stop immediately if you feel dizzy, lightheaded or short of breath.
- Do not work through sharp or intense pain – stop and rest.
- Leave the heavy work to others if you have prior injuries or feel unable.
Use Safe Lifting Form Every Time
Make proper lifting technique a habit – even for small loads:
- Bend knees and keep back straight for all lifting rather than bending at the waist.
- Avoid lifting with arms fully extended. Keep elbows tucked in.
- Test weight first before hoisting – if too heavy get help.
- Split heavy weights into smaller loads. Make multiple lighter trips if needed.
- Pivot feet rather than twisting body when turning with loads.
Following basic safety measures and listening to your limits will help prevent painful muscle strains and serious back injuries while moving heavy objects. Take the time to lift smart and get help when needed.