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Moving season: how to avoid injuries

Over one-third of all injuries sustained during a move are caused by clumsy movements and accidents (falls, dropped furniture, cuts, etc.) However, the good news is that most of these injuries can be avoided by following a few simple guidelines.


Pack intelligently

Use sturdy boxes in easy-to-handle sizes, then sort and pack your items to ensure you can lift them with only a moderate effort.

For furniture and appliances:

  • Dismantle furniture; remove and empty any drawers
  • Check for any protruding nails or screws
  • Drain all water from appliances


Plan your move in advance

  • How many people will be helping you? How much skill does each person have?
  • Are there any elevators and if so, must they be reserved in advance? Otherwise, which is the best staircase to use?
  • Which parking spots are closest to the building? Must they be reserved in advance?
  • Check the moving day weather forecast in advance. In high heat conditions, plan frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.
  • How wide are the building entrances? Are there any doors to be removed or traffic areas to clear out ahead of time?
  • Is the terrain level or uneven?


Use the right equipment

We recommend the following moving day attire:

  • Clothes that cover your shoulders and thighs
  • Closed, anti-skid footwear
  • Durable, close-fitting work gloves

You should also have the following material on hand, at a minimum:

  • A dolly to push heavy items
  • A wide gangplank to reduce reliance on stairs
  • Double straps that crisscross your back, so two people can safely carry heavier furniture and appliances

For more information on moving materials and how to use them in your specific environment, consult the CNESST’s handling equipment search tool.


Avoid injury on moving day

These twelve handy tips will keep you from overtaxing your joints:

  • Slide, pivot, rock, or roll instead of lifting
  • Push instead of pulling
  • Keep the load close to your body
  • Bend your knees instead of leaning forward
  • Always face the load and avoid twisting
  • Keep your movements smooth rather than jerky
  • Balance the load as symmetrically as possible
  • Keep your feet apart for greater stability
  • Keep your journeys as short as possible
  • Limit the number of times you lift items above your shoulders or up from the ground
  • Ensure stacked boxes are stable, with the lightest objects on top
  • For oversized or heavy items, work in teams of two and communicate with each other to coordinate your efforts


Finally, warm up by moving lighter boxes first, take your time, ensure you are eating enough, and drink plenty of water.

Happy moving day!


By Sophie-Anne Scherrer, occupational therapist

References :
  • IRSST (2016). Huit règles pour observer les manutentionnaires en action
  • CNESST (2016). Déménagement sécuritaire
  • CNESST (2016). Outil de recherché des appareils de manutention
  • IRSST. Manutention et risques
  • Adam, J. (2017). Déménagement : conseils pour éviter de se blesser le jour J
Keywords :   moving, occupational therapy


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