Safety in the workplace is essential. If an employer asks an employee to perform a task that might cause physical injury, the company is open to potential litigation. Heavy lifting is occasionally a part of some types of work, and it's common in the construction and building trades. Although heavy lifting might be expected on the job, an employer still has a responsibility to employees to keep them safe from injury.
Occupational and Safety Health Act
The Occupation and Safety Health Act was created to regulate interstate commerce. Part of the act allows the secretary of labor to put forward and enforce workplace safety standards. The aim of these standards is to protect employees from injury or illness at the workplace and to protect their families from the effects of a loved one's injury. Any employer involved in interstate commerce is subject to the law. Any employer that doesn't follow accepted workplace safety procedures is subject to fines, citations and eventually closure.
Employers are required to carry out a risk assessment before asking their employees to perform any type of heavy lifting or manual handling. Businesslink.gov states that in a thorough risk assessment, staff needs to be informed and consulted about potential workplace hazards; employers are responsible for determining which, if any staff might be harmed by the request; and employers must evaluate the risk and determine if sufficient safety precautions are in place.
Employers are encouraged to follow health and safety guidelines when it comes to heavy lifting. According to Cornell.edu, employees should first evaluate if they can lift the object on their own. They should then check for good handles and grips. Finally, they should make sure there are no obstructions in the way of lifting the item. Should the heavy lifting cause an injury, the employee might be eligible for workman's compensation, which is designed to protect workers from injury and illness on the job. It provides the employee with lost wages and adequate health care if needed.