I’m a kitchen designer, but designing kitchens isn’t all that the job entails. Mostly I sit at a computer, but sometimes I have to get physical. I have to work stock. I have to help a customer with a purchase. I have to just shift stuff from A to B. And from time to time that means that I have to lift things that are quite heavy.
I’m fairly fit. When they’re open, I go to the gym every other day. But I wouldn’t say I was particularly strong.
I can’t lift some of the stuff that I need to lift.
And in the 15 months that I’ve worked there, never, not once, have I been made to feel inadequate because there’s something I can’t lift.
There are always solutions – get someone to help, get someone stronger to do it, use machinery to help.
And that’s the same for all of us, male or female, strong or not-so-strong. The first rule of manual handling is – if you can’t lift it, don’t lift it. And that applies to everyone.
Ability to lift heavy weights isn’t divided along gender lines, but instead it’s a continuum. Some people are stronger than others. The strongest person has their limit – and at that point they would have to ask someone to help, or use machinery. The rest of us just hit that point a little sooner.
Occasionally a customer will ask me if they can get some help with lifting something, and you know they mean, ‘Is there a man who could help me?’ – and it gives me a bit of a kick to just go and do it for them.
Older men tend to feel uncomfortable ‘letting’ a woman do the lifting – but if they need help lifting, and I’m capable of doing it, then I’ll do it. I’m certainly not going to go off and find someone else to do something that I can do. We’re all busy enough.
I’m stronger than I was when I first started working there. But also, I’ve learnt what I can lift and what I can’t. I think it’s my confidence, rather than just my strength, that’s increased.
And it feels good to know that I can do it.
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