Manual Handling – Advice and Good Practice


Over one third of injuries requiring absence from work are caused by manual handling related injuries.  Types of injuries which can occur include:


·       Sprains/Strains – from overexertion of muscles

·       Fractures – usually by dropping objects onto feet

·       Lacerations – from sharp edges

·       Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) – back injuries, joint injuries etc.


Some of the above injuries are the result of one lift performed badly, usually involving a heavy object.  However, performing a number of low weight lifts incorrectly over a period of time can have a cumulative and chronic effect.  This means if someone always lifts incorrectly then each time they lift they increase the risk of sustaining or aggravating an injury (especially an MSD).


Examples of the Health and Safety Executive’s guide to safe weights for carrying:


·       This is not a legal standard

·       These are not weight limits but guidelines within which the average man or woman is automatically deemed safe

·       Above these values it may still be safe although a risk assessment may be required to demonstrate this

·       A load seldom stays in a single rated zone

As can be seen from the above diagram the closer we hold things to our body the more we can carry.  


The factors affecting Manual Handling can be categorised as follows




·       Is it necessary?

·       How frequent is the task?

·       Is it repetitive?

·       Where is the load going?

·       What route will you take? – shortest with least obstructions

·       Will the task involve reaching twisting, bending or stooping?




·       General physique and strength

·       Medical conditions

o    Bad back

o    Bad knees

o    Illness

·       Expectant or nursing mother (no heavy lifting)

·       Fatigue




·       What is it?

·       How heavy is it – do we know?

·       What shape is it – is it awkward to carry?

·       Is it rigid or will it bend?

·       Can it tear or burst?

·       Are there lifting instructions?




·       Floor surface – slippery on uneven?

·       Are there constraints on posture?

·       Temperature

·       Lighting

·       Obstructions (including people)


Lifting Techniques (kinetic lifting)

Using the following technique to lift objects reduces the risk of manual handling related injuries.


Before Lifting


Check the weight of the load

Check for awkward shape

Plan the route – remove any obstructions

Establish a firm grip


The Lift


Bend your knees

Keep the spine as straight as possible

Avoid twisting, jerking or over reaching

Establish a good balance

Keep the load close to your body

Use your body weight

If the load is heavy, seek assistance


Setting the object down


Keep the spine as straight as possible

Bend your knees if lowering the load

Avoid bending, twisting, over-reaching or jerking

Upon completion ensure the load is safely located


Manual Handling Advice and Good Practice training supplied by ContactCORP Limited and understand

the principles to be applied when performing manual handling tasks.