ES&H Manual



6106 Appendix T3

Risk Assessment and Safety Controls for Safe Lifting



1.0            Purpose


Risk assessment is a necessary prerequisite to the safe performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as lifting. In its practical details, risk assessment ranges from casual visual inspection to a highly formalized process that follows specifications of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and incorporates the concept of the Threshold Limit Value (TLV). After the degree and sources of risk have been determined through the risk assessment process, safety controls must be implemented in order to minimize that risk. The purpose of this appendix is to provide an overview of risk assessment as a determinant of safety controls to prevent injury associated with lifting tasks.  


2.0            Scope


This appendix applies to individuals who assign and/or perform lifting tasks to assure that the appropriate risk assessment is conducted.


This appendix is written in coordination with ES&H Manual Chapter 6106 Ergonomics Program. All applicable content within the chapter applies to the procedure outlined in this appendix.


3.0            Responsibilities

Responsibilities are outlined in ES&H Manual Chapter 6106 Ergonomics Program.


Anyone at Jefferson Lab may request an ergonomic consultation. As a matter of best practice, it is appropriate to request an ergonomic consultation for prevention purposes rather than waiting until an injury occurs.


4.0            Recommendations


4.1              Risk Assessment

Individuals who assign and/or perform lifting tasks must assure that appropriate risk assessment is conducted. The following steps can be followed:


4.1.1        Primary Risk Assessment

Using experience and common sense, the assessor determines whether the task involves an obviously routine lift. "Routine lifts" are common causes of back injury and warrant great respect. If primary risk assessment determines that the lift is routine, then the corresponding primary safety control is to follow the Safe Lifting Steps specified in Safe Lifting training and restated below. A lift is routine if it involves a load that is obviously lighter than 40 pounds, is not repetitive, is to be conducted by a qualified employee in a safe environment, and the “Safe Lifting Steps” specified later in this appendix can be followed. "Qualified employee" is a concept explained in Safe Lifting training and summarized below under "Load Weight Limits for Safe Lifting."  "Safe environment" refers to an environment that adds no additional risk to that which is an inherent characteristic of the lift itself. For instance, a safe environment presents no challenge to sure footing.  Primary risk assessment is a casual, intuitive, but critical process.

o   Interpretation: If the primary risk assessment determines that the lift is routine, then conduct the lift following the Safe Lifting Steps. Otherwise, proceed to secondary risk assessment.


4.1.2        Secondary Risk Assessment

A secondary risk assessment is needed if:

o   The load might weigh more than 40 pounds. If so, the load should be weighed.

o   The lift is repetitive. For the purposes of this document, “repetitive” lifts are those conducted more often than once per 5 minutes for more than one hour.

o   The load has a shape that makes proper lifting techniques difficult to follow without assistance. Long pipes exemplify such loads.

o   The environment is potentially hazardous. Wet floors exemplify such environments.

o   The lifter is potentially unqualified by experience, training, medical conditions, or physical characteristics to perform the lift unassisted.

o   Interpretation: If the secondary risk assessment determines that the lift is as safe as a routine lift, then conduct the lift following the Safe Lifting Steps. Otherwise, implement controls, explained later in this appendix, to make the lift as safe as a routine life. If such controls are not feasible, consult the Industrial Hygiene (IH) group for a tertiary assessment.


4.1.3        Tertiary Risk Assessment

This approach to risk assessment follows guidelines from the ACGIH and incorporates TLVs. Therefore, the tertiary risk assessor must have specific knowledge about and expertise in, the ACGIH-TLV rubric. Consequently, if a tertiary risk assessment might be needed, the lifter and/or task assigner must consult IH, which will then conduct the tertiary risk assessment in partnership with stakeholders and the Site Occupational Medicine Director (SOMD). The SOMD serves as the Lab's ergonomist. An ACGIH-TLV-based tertiary risk assessment is needed if the secondary assessment leaves any doubt about which safety controls will bring risk to the "As Low as Reasonably Achievable" (ALARA) level.


4.2              Safety Controls

Safety controls serve to minimize risk to ALARA. Controls are determined by the results of risk assessment and are organized under the "hierarchy of controls" concept of engineered, work practice, and administrative controls. The most effective “control” is to eliminate the need to lift in the first place.


4.2.1        Controls Based on Primary Risk Assessment

o   Engineered Controls – sometimes engineered controls such as reaching tools and lifting-assistive devices can be used to further reduce risk associated with routine lifts.

o   Work Practice Controls – these are often the only options available to minimize risk associated with routine lifts. By far, the most important work practice controls in most cases are the Safe Lifting Steps summarized below.

o   Administrative Controls – if administrative controls such as job rotation or employee selection are needed, then by definition, a secondary risk assessment is needed.  


4.2.2        Controls Based on Secondary Risk Assessment

o   Engineered Controls – lifting assistive devices are often recommended as a result of a secondary risk assessment.

o   Work Practice Controls – typically, the secondary risk assessment will result in a work practice control dyad:

·         Use of one or more lift partners.

·         Safe lifting steps followed by all lifts.

o   Administrative Controls – often, secondary risk assessment will result in one or both of the following administrative controls:

·         Employee selection to avoid placing an employee who might need protective restrictions at risk. Employee selection must always be facilitated via consultation with Occupational Medicine. Anyone who thinks s/he or a colleague might need safety-protective restrictions should contact Occupational Medicine at x5585 or x7539 for instructions.

·         Work limits using task rotation if the lift is repetitive.


4.2.3        Controls Based on Tertiary Risk Assessment

o   Engineered, work practice, and administrative safety controls stemming from tertiary risk assessment are typically in the same categories as those listed for secondary risk assessment. However, the expert risk assessor and her/his partnership team (stakeholders and the SOMD) must often specify more complex or creative controls than would stem from a secondary assessment. 


4.3              Safe Lifting Steps  

Step 1:             Lighten the load

Step 2:             Raise the load – ideal weight is stomach level

Step 3:             Face the load

Step 4:             Place the load next to your body

Step 5:             Pre-tighten the abdominal and back muscles

Step 6:             Lift

Step 7:             Rotate the body with feet to achieve terminal position

·         Never rotate the torso

·         Never laterally flex

·         End lift at stomach level if possible


4.4              Safe Lifting Steps as a Trigger for Ergonomics Consultation

o   If the steps listed above cannot be followed to a degree appropriate to make the lift low risk, then an ergonomics consultation should be requested.

o   NOTE: Step 4 warrants special emphasis because it serves to prevent dangerous amounts of torque on the low back. The importance of holding the load close to the body can be illustrated as follows:


4.5              Load Weight Limits for Safe Lifting


4.5.1        How Much Weight is it Safe to Lift?

o   It depends on:

·         Past History

·         Size

·         Strength

·         How you feel

·         Structure of the load

o   For young, healthy, strong persons 40 lbs.

o   For everyone, the less weight lifted and the less frequently, the better

o   It is also important to emphasize that if the Safe Lifting Steps, listed above cannot be appropriately applied, then an ergonomics consultation should be requested.   


4.5.2        What to do if you are predisposed

o   Consult the SOMD

o   Be especially careful in work motions

o   Habituate the cautious routine motions

o   Restrict work episodically

o   Restrict work permanently if needed


5.0            Revision Summary


Periodic Review – 08/24/17 – No changes per TPOC

Revision 0.0 – 10/20/14 – New content developed to reflect current laboratory operations










ES&H Division

Smitty Chandler





This document is controlled as an on line file.  It may be printed but the print copy is not a controlled document.  It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that the document is the same revision as the current on line file.  This copy was printed on 10/10/2017.