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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Five tips to prevent injuries when moving materials at work
Tamara MacKinnon Ergonomist with WCB Nova Scotia


In 2018, injuries caused by workers lifting, lowering, pulling and carrying materials made up 64.4 per cent of all workplace injuries in Nova Scotia. These injuries to the skeleton or muscles are known as musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs).

Here are five tips to help keep you and your colleagues safe when performing manual tasks at work: 

Share the load: If loads are heavy, ask for help. Team work decreases the weight when moving materials. For loads that weigh more than 23kg, look for alternatives to eliminate the need to lift, such as surface sliding, drop chutes, or a bin/cart system. 

Look where you’re going: Keep your line of sight clear. Make sure the material is below shoulder height and take one item at a time. Refrain from packing smaller items on top that block your line of sight. Use bins, bags, or a suitcase on wheels for smaller items during transport.

Before you lift, make sure the load is stable: Look at the packaging material of the load, the weight and size to assess the quality before you lift. Note any holes or rips and repair these areas before lifting.

Avoid awkward postures: Keep your body comfortable and aligned. Position material at comfortable heights. When lifting, keep objects as close to you as possible. Position material so hands are above knees and below the shoulders. 

Moving material in and out of a vehicle: Move your vehicle as close to where the materials will be loaded and unloaded, allowing for shorter trips if more than one is needed. 

Looking for more information to prevent MSIs in your workplace? The MSI prevention guide will help you build awareness, identify hazards, assess risks and implement controls. And check out for more useful resources.


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