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Manual Handling Techniques to Enhance Your Workplace Safety

When lifting and moving loads, knowing the potential risks is essential. Even seemingly light items can lead to sprains, strains, and other injuries if handled incorrectly. That’s why knowing the proper manual handling techniques is crucial to keeping yourself and your colleagues safe at the workplace. It’s not just a matter of safety but also a legal obligation for employers to control the risks associated with manual handling tasks. To help you fulfil this duty, we have compiled some essential manual handling techniques for lifting and moving heavy loads in the workplace.

What Is Manual Handling?

Manual handling is transporting or supporting a load by hand or bodily force, as HSE defines. In simple terms, any time an object is being moved without the help of machinery, it is referred to as manual handling. This may involve lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, moving, or carrying a load, regardless of its size, shape, or weight. It is crucial to ensure worker safety by taking necessary precautions while conducting manual handling activities.

Essential Manual Handling Techniques At Workplace

It is important to follow good manual handling techniques and procedures, which can vary depending on the workplace and the nature of the work being carried out. It is crucial to note that manual handling techniques for different professions may differ, as the techniques used by carers and factory workers, for instance, vary greatly. However, there are some general rules that one should always follow regarding good manual handling techniques.

Bypass Manual Handling Tasks If Possible

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 says: the first duty of employers is to avoid manual handling tasks, if possible. Whenever manual handling is being considered, it is important to explore if any alternative methods can be used to lift the load without relying on bodily force. One example of such an alternative method would be automation, which eliminates the need for lifting.

Use Lifting Equipment

If no other option is available, it may be safer to use a mechanical lifting aid instead of relying on one’s strength. Such lifting aids include lifts, jacks, trolleys, and barrows. Ensuring that the lifting equipment is in proper condition and that employees are adequately trained to use it anytime you ask them to use such equipment is crucial.

Plan Your Lift Carefully

If you are planning to lift an object, it is crucial to have a careful plan in place before attempting to do so. You should ensure that the object is stable and won’t tip over, check for any obstructions along your route, and confirm that the load’s weight is manageable for you to carry. If possible, request someone’s assistance to aid you in moving the load. The Health and Safety Executive suggests conducting a TILE assessment, which involves evaluating the Task, Individual lifting, the Load, and the Environment in which the lifting will be performed. 

Get a Good Grip

It is critical to have a good, firm grip on the load before moving it. You should keep your arms within the limits created by your legs and use a hooked grip rather than keeping your fingers straight. If available, wear gloves to protect your hands. If you need to change your grip while carrying the load, do so carefully or set the load down first.

Use Your Knees, Not Your Back

When lifting heavy objects, maintaining good posture is essential to prevent injuries. In order to do this, it’s important to adopt a semi-squatting posture by half-bending at the knees and slightly bending your back. Using upper leg rather than back muscles will help you power your lift more effectively.

Don’t Twist When Lifting

Start slowly and steadily without jerking or twisting movements to ensure a smooth lift. Keeping your shoulders aligned and facing the same direction as your hips throughout the lift is important.

Its Better to Keep the Load Close to the Body

Once you’ve lifted the load, keeping it as close to your body as possible is crucial. If you can, position the heaviest part of the object close to you to maintain a firmer grip while carrying the load. While carrying the load, keep your head forward and look straight ahead to help maintain balance and prevent injury.

Rest If You Have To

When carrying a heavy load over a long distance, it is important to take frequent breaks, set the load down to rest and adjust your grip. In order to prevent strain on your back and muscles, it is recommended to put the load down at hip height on a table or bench instead of placing it directly on the floor.

Put Down the Load Carefully and Push into Place

Once you have reached the destination where the load is to be placed, it is crucial to put it down carefully using a smooth motion without sudden movements. Avoid twisting or jerking while lowering the load to prevent any injuries. If the load needs to be positioned in a certain way, it’s best to put it down and then push it into the required position.

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