Nobody likes to move. Let’s face it, it’s difficult and laborious. But almost all of us will have to do it sometime in our lives, and most of us will have to do it several times. In fact, three-quarters of the people living in the United States move about once every five years! Moving is also fraught with hazards, like breaking glass and damaging fragile objects. The greatest hazards, however, come from moving heavy objects.
The greatest risk of moving heavy objects, of course, is the risk of injuring yourself. Damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints are the most common types of injuries that occurs from moving heavy objects. In fact, statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that almost half of all injuries that result in workers taking time off from work are of this type, so moving heavy objects is risky even for experienced movers. Back injuries are also common, and are the most debilitating of injuries. A herniated spinal disc that compresses a nerve can cause excruciating pain and require surgery. The risk of a back injury can be minimized by wearing a weight belt, which makes your spine less likely to turn as you lift. You should be warned, however, that using a weight belt does no good unless you use proper lifting technique, which involves bending down at the knees to pick up an object instead of bending over, and keeping your back straight, using your legs to lift. Moving extremely heavy objects down stairways is especially dangerous; people have died from having a refrigerator fall on them while moving the refrigerator down a flight of stairs.
Another potential hazard is having to disassemble and then reassemble a large item. Some objects just won’t fit through a doorway no matter how you turn them, and require you to remove at least part of them to make them fit. Sometimes this is easy, like having to remove the legs from a couch to make it fit. Disassembling a grand piano, however, is no easy task, and neither is reassembling it. This is one instance where it is definitely not okay to have a few pieces left over after you are done putting it back together!
Damaging the home you are moving out of or into is also commonplace. Damage to homes can be expensive to repair. This type of damage often happens when trying to move long and unwieldy pieces around corners or through tight spaces. Poking a hole in a wall is very easy to do with a bulky piece of furniture. Plan how you are going to move a piece before you do it to ensure this doesn’t happen, and put padding on corners and sharp pieces to minimize the risk of damage to walls.
One risk that a lot of people probably don’t think about comes from driving. Big, heavy pieces require a big, strong vehicle to move them. Moving vans are bigger, heavier, and more difficult to drive than an ordinary vehicle, and if you have little experience with them, you are at greater risk of having an accident. You should drive slowly, exercise greater caution, and try not to drive on congested roads or at peak traffic times.
This is by no means a complete list of safety precautions to follow when moving large, heavy objects. For more information, consult the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Interstate Removalists, which has guides on doing heavy lifting safely.