Moving, or assisting the students we care for with movement, is such a routine task that we perform it subconsciously. Back injuries and back strains are common in schools, so awareness training is necessary to keep safe lifting techniques on the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Here are a few recommendations to prevent back injuries while assisting students:
- Provide stepstools for students that can reach sinks and drinking fountains and other areas that are not at their level of reach
- When comforting an upset child, sit down in a chair or kneel to their level instead of picking them up
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight when getting on their level or when assisting them
- Think before acting; if the student can be guided or assisted by hand rather than fully lifting and moving them, do so
- If they cannot be safely lifted or moved, seek help
When necessary to physically lift or move a student:
- Placing your feet and knees at least one shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other, directly face the student
- Bend at the knees and keep your back straight
- Take the student with both arms and keep them as close to you as possible
- Do not twist your back while standing
- Slowly stand up
- Once upright it is safe to turn and place the student in a new position in the same manner
Awkward and heavy lifting can be detrimental to back health if not done in a thoughtful and safe manner. Think through these types of tasks before acting and seek help when needed.