How to Lift Safely

Lifting and moving patients exposes your back to potential injury every day. You can minimize your risk of injury by practicing good back care techniques. Take a minute now to assess your knowledge and practices so that you can take steps to reduce your risk of injury.


  • Are you involved in a regular conditioning exercise program, such as walking, swimming or bicycling?
  • Do you take posture breaks and stretch your muscles during work?
  • Do you stretch your muscles before work and/or perform back stretching/strengthening exercises to protect your back?
  • Do you know what to do if you have an injury or have discomfort while working?

Lifting and Moving Patients

  • Do you ask for help when you need it?
  • Do you plan the steps in your head (how many people you need, placement of people and bed, chair, stretcher, etc.) before the move
  • Do you know how and when to use assistive devices?
  • Do you know how best to move patients with special needs (i.e., paralyzed, with tubes, casts or traction)?
  • Do you know about Health System resources for information on proper transfer techniques?

Back Anatomy and Body Mechanics

  • Do you hold patients close to your body as you move them?
  • Do you use your body weight - not your back - to move patients?
  • Do you maintain good posture at all times - not just when lifting and moving a patient?

If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, consider yourself a wise and careful caregiver.

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, ask the U-M Occupational Health Services nurse to assist you in developing a plan to help improve your back care practices.