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 is the load going to be placed, and will help be needed? 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.
  • Keep the load close to the waist. The load should be kept close to the body, with the heaviest side nearest. If a close approach to the load is not possible, try to slide it towards the body before attempting to lift it.
  • Adopt a stable position. Keep feet apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load, if it is on the ground). Feet should be moved to maintain balance during the lift. Avoid tight clothing and unsuitable footwear which might impair movement.
  • Get a good hold. Where possible, hug the load as close as possible to the body. This may be better than gripping it tightly with hands only.
  • Employ good posture. At the start of the lift, slight bending of the back, hips and knees is preferable to fully flexing the 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.
  • Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways, especially while back is bent. 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 the load is held securely.
  • Move smoothly. The load should not be jerked or snatched as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase the risk of injury.
  • Don't lift or handle more than can be easily managed. There is a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If in doubt, seek advice or get help.
  • Put down, and then adjust. If precise positioning of the load is necessary, put it down first, and then slide it into the desired position.