Ergonomic Tips

Ergonomic Tips for Summer Maintenance

Annette Satterly, Risk Management Associate         

Yes, unfortunately, it is true. I am a packrat. I do not think I will appear in an episode of Hoarders anytime soon, but I still need to downsize. As I do with so many of my faults, I blame genetics. My parents were both educators. One was a teacher, reading specialist, principal, and superintendent, the other a counselor and teacher. Needless to say, I have great respect for educators and like to think I understand some of their idiosyncrasies. One common among many: hoarding. They may not have been born with this gene, as I was, but as soon as they receive their degree it apparently triggers something in their cellular biology. I have also found that if they teach certain subjects or grade levels, the tendency to collect and keep is even worse.  I believe that this habit to hold onto items comes from working under the weight of tight budgets, wanting the best for their students, and from the learned, earned belief that “I might need it someday.”

A dear friend and co-worker pointed out that our offices have been closed now for almost a year, which reminded me happily that my office must still look pristine, spare, and beautiful, as I haven’t been there to make a mess or pull out my “treasures.” This welcome surprise got me thinking. It’s been a year, and I haven’t used, or needed(!), these highly valued “treasures.” So, maybe it is time to tell them goodbye.

As you might expect, given my role at MSGIA, my biggest concern about saying goodbye to overstuffed bags and boxes full of my “treasures” is not letting go of them but lifting them. I have been known to pack for space and efficiency, not weight and what is best for my back. I have also been known to rely on colleagues I work with to do the heavy lifting. This is neither right nor smart. So now what?

 Here are a few safety reminders for dealing with heavy items that need to be moved or stored:

  • Remember that the weight of paper, books, or anything liquid adds up quickly. Be careful and limit the amount you lift as well as the amount you put into boxes or garbage bags.
  • Always use mechanical aids when they are available. The less material you actually maneuver on your own the better. And for those of you who have an MSGIA garbage can lift, please use it.
  • Remember to use your hips/legs when lifting items into a dumpster. Do not use the motion that track and field athletes use in the “hammer throw” event. If you do, eventually you’re bound to get injured.
  • If you do have to carry something with an unevenly distributed weight, make sure the heavier side is the side closest to you.
  • Make sure that you can see over whatever you are carrying, and try to plan your route so as to ensure there are no tripping hazards, closed doors, or other obstacles between you and your destination.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help.
  • The best lift is the one we do not have to make.

In addition to these tips and tricks, I have created the Annette Clean Office/Lifting Flow Chart (see below).

For more information on proper lifting, to set up training with Annette or Harry, or if you need assistance in setting up training on Safe Schools, please contact us at 406-457-4410 (Annette) or 406-457-5315 (Harry) or at or Please also feel free to contact me to offer support on cleaning out my office. Return to newsletter