- THE MAGAZINE
Perhaps you’ve walked into a trinket-filled store and seen the sign, “You Break, You Pay” or some similar wording. This is what went through my mind the first time a customer asked me to move a curio-loaded cabinet. The figurines displayed had more value than my meager bank account could cover. I immediately developed a policy that I would only move objects that were emptied of breakable pieces and that the customer would have to move those previous to the job. With this concept in mind, I would like you to consider the consequences of “breaking” something arguably much more valuable - your back.
What happens when a professional carpet or restoration specialist gets called out to do a job and can’t lift his wand, let alone a couch? If you hurt your back, you are out of business! Not only do you lose the ability to do the physical part of your work, but you may face rehabilitation costs such as physical therapy or even surgery.
So how have you been treating your back? Do you routinely lift and move furniture unaided? Why risk it? Your livelihood is at stake. There are tools available that can greatly reduce the likelihood of back injury. First, consider the use of plastic disks to place under the furniture to allow easy movement. These are often called movers, skidders, furniture glides, EZ-moves, etc. These furniture glides allow you to move large pieces of furniture in and out or from side-to-side, whether on carpet or even on hard surfaces. Professional versions have a special high density polyethylene material that moves very easily on carpet. The hard surface models have a type of felt pad that glides effortlessly over tile, marble and linoleum. There are even certain types of movers that are larger and made to go under refrigerators and other large appliances. Not only does it save the backs of you and your techs, it tells your customer they’re dealing with a company that values its employees.
The same is true when you use a simple little tool that helps you lift the furniture onto the furniture mover. They’re usually called a lift buddy (or something similar) and they feature wheels that let you roll the tool under the furniture edge. It uses leverage to lift the furniture with very little stress on your back. All you do is press down on the handle to lift the furniture high enough to slide the mover under the legs of whatever it is you need to move. Even if you don’t need to move the furniture, you can still use it to put tabs under the furniture legs to protect them from moisture. It’s one more thing you have to carry into the house, but it’s a lot better than taking the risk of putting yourself out of business with an injury.
Another huge help in the fight against back injuries are sticky tabs. It’s as simple as it sounds. These plastic 3 x 3-inch tabs are placed under furniture. One side features adhesive to allow the tab to stay attached to the leg as you move the furniture around. These do not replace the hard plastic skidders and movers for heavy furniture, but are highly convenient and effective for most furniture.
Now when that couch with the extra leg in the back has been moved out into the room, put the sticky tab on all the legs. The tabs will stay on the furniture as you move it around and actually help create less stress on the legs when sliding the furniture.
The tab can be put into place and then an EZ-move can be used below it. When the EZ-move is removed, the sticky tab is there ready to go. The adhesive will not stick to the furniture permanently and the tab can be removed at any time.
We have all been faced with the super-sized, made of 100% rubber, about the same density as lead, weighing 2,000 pounds, king-size bed attached to the ornate carved headboard that reaches 10-feet in height. This, you just don’t want to move. That is when I pull out my long handle stair tool. As long as the customer has cleared any items from underneath the bed, I will use the stair tool to clean under it. This tool is about 3.5-inches high and has a 15° rise so you can clean in a flat-like position. It is 40-inches long, so it has pretty good reach. As a bonus, you can use it to clean stairs while standing.
The main point here is that it’s easy and fairly inexpensive to buy and use a few simple gadgets as insurance against putting yourself out of a lot of work and out of a lot of money. If you’re not taking such simple precautions to protect yourself, you should re-think your strategy. Just remember: you break, you pay. So make sure you’re not the one that “breaks.”