Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The little guide to safely moving big items

Many people will have to lift and carry large or bulky items either during their move, or when they are getting their home ready for the big day. We would always recommend hiring a removal professional to get the done right and give you one less thing to worry about.

But sometimes, the big stuff needs shifting and it’s down to you. But just how do you lift large items to avoid strains, damage or injury? Here at Smoove Move, we’ve got your back every step of the way. That’s why we gathered these tip from the moving heavyweights to keep you safe and sound and lift like a pro.

A weight off your mind

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers the following sage advice about how to make light work of levitating loads: There is no single correct way to lift. The technique for lifting will depend on many things, such as the weight and size of the item. For example, it’s easier to pick up something that is boxed and has handholds than something awkwardly shaped or where the weight is unevenly distributed. They’ve helpfully published guidance which contains illustrations of good handling practice. Need to learn more? Check out their manual on handling here.

Plan ahead

To minimise the risk of an unexpected detour to your local A&E department on moving day, it’s essential to plan ahead. And we don’t mean making good and sure to check Google maps before you set off.

Fail to plan and you’ll plan to fail, as the old cliché goes. If you really have to move larger items, make sure you know what you’re up against in terms of size and weight.

Lifting like an expert

Again, with a little help from the experts at the HSE, here’s how to lift a heavy object like a washing machine, fridge or sofa with minimum risk of injury.

  • Stand firm. First off, make sure you stand in a stable position. Wear loose clothing and sturdy footwear to make this easier.
  • Get a grip. A good one, and try and keep the load as close as possible to the body.
  • Bend a bit. Make sure you slightly bend the back, hips and knees. It’s a lot easier on your muscles and back than stooping or squatting.
  • Watch your back. Don’t flex your back any further while lifting. Make sure your legs don’t begin to straighten before starting to raise the load.
  • Avoid doing the twist. Particularly while your back is bent. Shoulders should be kept level and facing in the same direction as the hips. Turning by moving the feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
  • Heads up. Keep your head up when handling. Look ahead, not down at what you’re carrying.
  • Move smoothly. Well, we would say that, wouldn’t we? The load should not be jerked or snatched as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase the risk of injury.
  • Stop whenever you want. Put down and adjust whenever you feel uncomfortable. If precise positioning of the load is necessary, put it down first, then slide it into the desired position.
  • Only lift what is right for you. There is a big difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift…see the next section for more on this.

What’s safe to lift?

As mentioned above, what you can lift if your life depends on it and what is safe to lift are two very different things. Ever wondered why the limit of checked of checked baggage weight at the airport is 23kg? Because an employee will have to lift it when it disappears down that conveyor belt. Even though there are no legal limits for weight that’s safe to be lifted at work, this is a good guideline.

But bulky objects that require you to lift them in unusual positions will need to be lighter as this puts extra stress on unused muscles. Unlike lifting a bag by the handle, this is something most of us just aren’t used to.

Sofa, so good

That’s the technical stuff out of the way. What about some practical help on actually shifting the stuff? No problem. Let’s start with our old friend the sofa.

This is usually the largest thing you’ll need to move if you’re doing it without professional help and where most people come unstuck. Not because of the weight, but the size. So make sure you measure it up (remove the legs if you can) remembering to note the length, height and width. Then (this could take some planning ahead) try and get the measurements of the narrowest part of any openings the sofa will need to go through at your new address. That’s doorframes, halls or lift if you’re moving to a flat or apartment.

Here’s where zen-like spatial awareness will come in handy. Getting larger items through narrow gaps can be like trying to fit the proverbial round peg into a square hole; but can often be done even though the eye tells you it can’t.

Here are the questions to ask yourself:

Is the sofa’s back height higher than the door’s width? Its width will need to be narrower than the door’s width  so you can turn it to get it through.

Is your sofa wide and high? If the width and the back height are too long for the width of the door, then you can turn and its side as long as the length is less than the door’s height.

Is there room to manoeuvre? Make sure there’s at least a foot or more of space on either side of the gap to allow you to wiggle the sofa through.

Still won’t fit? Take off the door if that’s what stopping you. Think about finding a local window specialist to take out your double glazing panel and go through the window. This only works on ground floors though!

Don’t lose sleep over it

Beds are another bulky item you’ll need to move. Luckily, unlike sofas they are usually designed to be easy to dismantle. If you can use an electric screwdriver with Allen/hex heads this will make the job a lot easier. Just remember to keep all the bolts, washers and screws together in a bag and attached securely to the mattress or keep in your moving day tool box. You really don’t want to lose these!

The mattress will then be the heaviest part to move and with two people will bend to go through even the narrowest gaps and tightest corners.


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