Safe manual handling at work
Tips for good lifting technique
The following tips can help you avoid injury when lifting and carrying:
- Think before lifting/handling. Plan the lift. Can handling aids be used? Where are you going to place the load, and will you need help? Remove obstructions such as discarded wrapping materials. Consider breaking long lifts by resting the load mid-way on a table or bench to change grip.
- Adopt a stable position. Keep your feet apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load, if it is on the ground). Your feet should be moved to maintain your balance during the lift. Avoid wearing tight clothing and unsuitable footwear which might impair your movement.
- Get a good hold. Where possible, hug the load as close as possible to your body. This may be better than gripping it tightly with your hands only.
- Employ good posture. At the start of the lift, bend your back, hips and knees slightly rather than fully flexing your back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips or knees (squatting).
- Don't flex the back any further while lifting. This can happen if the legs begin to straighten before starting to lift the load.
- Keep the load close to the waist. Keep the load close to your body, with the heaviest side nearest. If you can't approach to the load closely, try to slide it towards your body before attempting to lift it.
- Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways, especially while your back is bent. Your shoulders should be level and facing the same direction as the hips. Turning by moving the feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
- Keep the head up when handling. Look ahead, not down, once you have a secure hold on the load.
- Move smoothly. You should not jerk or snatch the load as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase your risk of injury.
- Don't lift or handle more than can be easily managed. There is a difference between what you can lift and what you can safely lift. If in doubt, seek advice or get help.
- Put down, and then adjust. If you need to position the load precisely, put it down first, and then slide it into the desired position.