Correct Techniques for Lifting People

Depending on the field you work in, there may be unique safety threats you have to deal with in the workplace. If you work in a medical capacity with the ill, elderly or disabled, there is a whole arena of problems that you may encounter when working with your patients. One of these is lifting.

Techniques for Lifting PatientsWhether it is in and out of bed, to the toilet or in and out of the wheelchair, there is a lot of lifting to be done.

Here are some tips to make sure you don’t hurt them or yourself.

Dress Appropriately

Wear shoes that are low to no heel and comfortable, as well as comfortable, loose clothing.

Check the Path

If you are moving a patient, make sure you check the path you are going to take them on, and that it is clear of obstacles. Look for things that could cause you to trip and fall, injuring both you and your patient, or that you could bump into causing bruises, or if your patient has soft tender skin – cuts and abrasions. In particular be aware of:

  • edges of tables and benches
  • legs of chairs
  • boxes, baskets, etc.
  • pets that can suddenly dart out into your path
  • rugs and mats
  • tears in carpet
  • slippery surfaces (overpolishing or wet surfaces)
  • discarded clothing or shoes, and
  • other people


It is important that your patient knows what is going on. Make sure to face the patient and always tell them what you are doing before you do it. Speak to them reassuringly during the whole exercise, instructing them if you need to. Avoid raising your voice in urgency or anger, as this can trigger off a response that might turn a slightly precarious situation into a dangerous one.

How to Hold

The safest way to hold your patient is to wrap your arms around the person’s body under their arms, essentially hugging them to you, and then lift.

How to Lift

As you lift, keep your upper body straight and bend with your legs. Also follow this when you are lowering a person. This will not only assist your balance, it will also support your back and limit the chance that you will injure it.

How to Move to the Side

One of the common motions you will use is moving your patient from one position to another, such as from their bed to a wheelchair. When moving a person you are holding, move your feet and whole body in the move, don’t just twist yourself. Twisting to move the patient can strain your back.

How to Carry

When carrying a person, try to keep them close to your body. You will combine their center of gravity with yours, creating more stability, guarding against injury, and creating a column of strength and support that your patient will sense.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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