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What Does Manual Handling Mean and What Training Is Required?

Manual handling can occur in almost any industry, which is why it’s vital businesses provide appropriate training. Without the knowledge and training in manual handling, employees could potentially suffer an injury. This would negatively impact both the employee and the business.


There are many courses available to ensure employees are well-equipped to deal with the moving of an object. But what does ‘manual handling’ mean and how can you reduce the risk of injury? We cover all of this and more in the blog below.



What Does Manual Handling Mean?

Manual handling is when a person needs to transport or support a load by hand or bodily force. This includes lifting, pushing, pulling, lowering, moving or carrying a load. This could be an object such as a box or package, food, an animal or a roll cage or a pallet truck.


Why Do Staff Need Manual Handling Training?

A large proportion of work-related injuries are caused by manual handling - the most common being back injuries. In any situation where your staff are required to lift, lower, pull or push an object and there are associated risks, manual handling training must be completed. This is to avoid injury and protect the business from any legal liability.


What’s Included in Manual Handling Training?

Manual handling training teaches employees how to safely complete tasks where manual handling is necessary. The training will cover the correct ways to lift and move objects to reduce the risk of injury.


Manual handling training can be offered in person and online. However, in person training offers significant advantages. This is because manual handling is a practical activity, so to learn the proper techniques, it’s best to do this in person. 


How to Prevent Hazardous Manual Handling

When lifting and moving a heavy object, here’s how you should approach the task.


  1. Think Before Lifting/Handling

Plan the lift and ask yourself if there are any handling aids you can use to lighten the load. Find out where the load is going to be placed and if you’ll need help with the load. Make sure you move any obstructions out of your path before you begin the lift. 


  1. Take a Stable Position

A stable position involves keeping the feet apart with one leg slightly forward to keep your balance. You may need to move your feet during the lift to keep stability. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing and footwear as this may make it difficult. 


  1. Have a Firm Grip

Wherever possible, the item or load should be held close to the body, almost like a hug. 


  1. Keep Good Posture

To maintain good posture at the start of the lift, have a slight bending of the back, hips and knees (stooping) or fully flex the hips and knees (squatting).


  1. Don’t Flex the Back Any Further While Lifting

Be careful not to flex the back any further, as your legs can start to straighten before you start to raise the load. 


  1. Keep the Load Close to Your Waist

Keep the heaviest side of the load next to your body to make the lift easier. 


  1. Avoid Twisting

Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways, particularly while the back is bent. It’s important to keep your shoulders level and face in the same direction as your hips. 


  1. Keep Your Head Up

While handling an object, keep your head up and look ahead, not down at the load. 


  1. Move Carefully With the Load

The object or load shouldn’t be jerked as it can make it harder to move and could increase the chances of injury. 


  1. Don’t Handle More Than You Can Manage

Although you may be able to lift an object, it doesn’t mean you can do so safely. That’s why it’s important to assess if a lift can be handled effectively and safely. 


How to Assess Manual Handling

Any manual handling tasks that can’t be avoided need to be properly assessed to ensure risks are reduced and adequate controls are used. Use this checklist to conduct a proper assessment.


When assessing the task, ask yourself if it involves:


  • Holding the object away from the body
  • Twisting or reaching
  • Large vertical movement
  • Long distance
  • Strenuous effort
  • Repetition


Also ask yourself if there are any rest breaks.


Next, find out if you can do the following:


  • Use a lifting aid
  • Reduce the amount of twisting
  • Avoid lifting from the floor
  • Reduce carrying distance
  • Avoid repetition
  • Vary the work
  • Push instead of pull
  • Have a rest break


You’ll then need to assess the load - its size, weight, the stability of the load and the frequency of handling. Can you reduce the size and weight of the loads to make handling easier? 


However, before doing any manual lifting, it’s important to ensure you’re wearing appropriate footwear to avoid the chances of a slip or fall. Take a look at our slip-resistant, warehouse footwear to find something that meets the needs of your job by clicking here.


You also need to make sure the environment you’re moving items in is safe and secure enough to do so. To make sure your warehouse has done everything it can to reduce the chances of injury, take a look at our guide below.


How Safe Is Your Warehouse?

Our guide explores what it’s like to work in a warehouse and offers some signs to look out for that may show that your facility isn’t implementing enough health and safety measures. With the right measures in place, the risk of injury will be reduced and will create a safer environment.


To learn more, click the button below.

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