Team Talk: Safe Lifting

About Team Talk 
Team Talks are intended to provide ready-to-use guidance for facilitated safety discussions on key employee safety topics. Whether you use this copy as an exact script, or as a set of talking points for creating your own talk, is up to you. We hope it provides a useful starting point for discussion. Click the download button above to download a designed PDF with space for notes.

Facilitator’s Note: You might consider having a doll to practice with your team for this session to demonstrate the proper lift.

When people talk about safe lifting, they often talk about boxes, furniture or other heavy but immobile items. They rarely talk about children. Lifting a happy child properly is tough enough, but lifting a child properly while he or she is wiggling and screaming and throwing a major tantrum can seem nearly impossible. And because these unpredictable movements make it hard to follow proper lifting procedures, they can be harmful to your back and neck.

One good way to practice how to perform the proper lift is to use a doll or mannequin. Of course, this doll will not be throwing a tantrum, but it gives you a chance to practice the way it should be done.

Tips for a Proper Child Lift 

  • Face the child with feet slightly apart (shoulder width)
  • Communicate with the child, letting them know you are going to pick them up and making sure they are ready
  • Squat
  • Bring the child to your chest using both hands
  • Stand slowly, using the strength of your legs, not your back
  • Maintain the natural S-curve to your back during the lift
  • Turn by moving your feet, not by twisting your torso
  • Set the child down, keeping the child close to your body and bending your legs, not your back, if necessary

As you might imagine, there is also a list of don’ts when lifting a child.

When Lifting a Child, Don’t: 

  • Don’t lift by bending from the waist – always lift by squatting
  • Don’t lift a child over a baby gate or other obstacle
  • Don’t jerk or make quick movements
  • Don’t turn or twist your torso – use your feet to face your body a different direction
  • Don’t work with any weight with your hands above your shoulders – to retrieve or set down a load – you place undo strain on both your lower back (by leaning backwards from your waist) and your shoulders. For example, you should not raise a child to another staff person while you are seated on the floor.

We know things can get pretty messy working with children and there’s potential for getting all kinds of stains on your clothing. (You can compare notes later). Please be sure that the potential for mess doesn’t wrongly encourage you to hold the child farther from your body than is safe or prudent. Your clothing can always be cleaned. Always take care of the child first.

We appreciate the work you do with children and we know it’s not easy work. You are shaping young minds and helping them build character values to last a lifetime. We want you to last a lifetime, too!

True or False?

Are we ready for a quick 3 question true or false quiz on lifting?

When you lift a child, stand slowly, using the strength of your legs, not your back.

If you are strong enough, you can lift the child over a baby gate.

Always lift by squatting.