Safe Techniques for Manual Handling


Poor manual handling techniques are the most common cause of workplace accidents. Manual handing can be a means of lifting, pulling and pushing heavy objects and if an employee doesn't know how to move these objects safely, then that can be extremely dangerous. But, not only does it pose a danger to the employee in hand, poor manual handling can also pose a threat to all those present in the workplace.

This short guide will explain what the best manual handling techniques are and why you should follow them to prevent injuries in the workplace. If, however, you are still asking yourself questions about manual handling by the end of reading this guide, then we would advise you to get in touch with a team of health and safety consultants who can advise you further.

What Exactly Are the Different Types of Manual Handling?

Moving large heavy objects, most commonly known as manual handling, is a physical action taken by someone in order to move or support an object through a means of:

  • Carrying
  • Pushing
  • Lifting
  • Pulling
  • Transporting
  • Manoeuvring

It is the law in the UK that employers perform regular risk assessments and do everything that is practically possible to reduce the risk of injury to their employees when it comes to manual handling.

Things to Consider Before a Manual Handling Task

Assess the Environment You Are In

Before undertaking a manual handling task, make sure that you thoroughly assess the environment. It is always good practice to walk the route that you are going to take with the object to ensure that there are no obstructions in the walkway or any uneven surfaces that could cause you to trip or slip.

Decide What You Are Capable of Lifting

This is extremely important because if you try to lift an object that’s way too heavy for your capabilities then you could cause yourself some serious harm.

Plan How the Task Can Be Carried Out Safely

It is good practice to picture how the task should be carried out. Doing so will help you plan the route you need to take that will maintain efficiency and the safety of the employees. You can assess whether you are going to end up close to other people that could be put at risk.

Identify Ways of Reducing Any Potential Risks

For example, does this object actually need to be lifted? Can you use a mechanical aid to help you move the object? Or can one of your colleagues help you perform the task?

Tips for Manual Handling Lifting

1. Before handling an object, make sure that you think thoroughly about the task in hand. Can you use a manual handling aid instead of lifting the object yourself? Where is the object being transported to? And, are there obstructions that have the potential to cause an accident on the route?

2. Get your body into a stable but comfortable position where your feet are apart and one leg slightly forward to help maintain stability during the task. When manual handling, it is also paramount that you wear the appropriate safety footwear. Remember, it isn't just your back at risk when lifting objects.

3. Make sure that you get a good grasp on the object to prevent it from slipping and keep it as close to your body as possible.

4. When carrying the object, make sure that you keep it close to your waist for a long as you can during the lift. Remember to keep your head up and always look straight ahead and never down at the object that you are carrying.

Tips for Pulling or Pushing Heavy Objects

  • If you are using a piece of mechanical equipment, ensure that it is in excellent condition and well-maintained before starting the task.
  • Always make sure that your feet are kept at a distance away from the object and that you travel no faster than your average walking speed.
  • The force in which you pull or push the object will need to increase if you are travelling over uneven surfaces or imperfect conditions.
  • It is good practice to identify when an object can be pushed rather than pulled as this is safer.
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01 Apr 2019