Top Ten Tips for Safe Manual Handling Practices at Work

Top Ten Tips for Safe Manual Handling Practices at Work

Do your employees regularly move heavy objects like crates, containers, boxes and other stuff? Generally, we don’t pay much attention to this, considering it as part and parcel of the job. But, improper lifting leads to deadly injuries and accidents. Take a look at the proper manual handling practices to minimize injuries at the workplace.

Did you know that manual handling is one of the major reasons for injuries in the workplace? More than a third of all workplace accidents and injuries occur as a result of improper manual handling practices. You can avoid these injuries by making sure that your organization and your employees are equipped with the right techniques, skills, and tools.

With this in mind, we’ve put together this week’s post that helps you teach the right manual handling practices at work.

First things first,

What is Manual Handling?

Any physical effort done by an individual or a team without support from tools is known as manual handling. It involves:

  • Lifting
  • Pulling
  • Pushing
  • Carrying
  • Maneuvering
  • Transporting
  • Balancing
  • Steadying
  • And more

According to workplace laws, the employer must undertake a risk assessment of the workplace and ensure that manual handling risks are eliminated or negated. Employers have to provide workers with tools that reduce the need for manual handling. Apart from tools and machines, it’s also the role of the employer to teach the right manual handling techniques to their employees.

Here, at Totalika, India’s leading workplace safety expert, we regularly conduct on-site training to teach employees the right manual handling techniques. We’ve put together a ten-step guide to help you get off to the right start.

1) Conduct a manual handling risk assessment

Risk assessments are essential to review all the risks present in the workplace and to find the right solutions to reduce the identified risks. If you need help conducting a comprehensive risk assessment of your workplace, you can reach out to our expert risk assessment team here at Totalika.

2) Provide your Employees with the Right Manual Handling Training

When we mean training, we don’t refer to an impromptu discussion session with a few PowerPoint slides. Instead, we refer to a proper Workplace manual handling training that is up-to-date and in-line with the latest workplace laws and legislation. All workplace training should meet the guidelines specified by the local laws and regulations.

3) Use Mechanical Tools and Aids

Wherever possible use mechanical tools and aids. It’s always safer to lift using a sack truck, trolley, forklift or wheelbarrow, rather than relying on manual force.

4) Plan before you Start

This is crucial. Instead, of lifting things randomly, train employees to have a specific plan. Where is the particular item going? Can it be lifted alone or do employees require help? Is the pathway clear of obstructions? Is there enough space in the destination for the object to be placed?

These are some of the questions to be addressed before employees start lifting.

5) Wear the Right Clothing

Tight fitting clothes, unsuitable footwear impact the process. Ensure that employees wear the appropriate clothing before they do any manual handling. Also provide them with the right protective gear like helmets, gloves and more.

6) Know the Limits

If a particular load is too heavy, then instruct employees not to lift it alone and get the help of others or use a mechanical aid.

7) Push than Pull

When it comes to manual handling pushing is always safer compared to pulling. When you pull, you risk the chances of damaging a large number of muscles. While pushing, just make sure that the route is clear from obstacles (both human and other objects).

8) Bend the Knees

If there is one mantra to follow while lifting, then it is this – bend at the knees to pick up the load. Don’t bend your back, as you could end up damaging your back muscles.

9) Keep your Head High

While moving heavy loads always lift your head high. This not only keeps you focused on where you are going but aligns your spine and neck in the correct position, thereby preventing injuries.

10) Hug the Load

Keeping the load close to the body reduces the strain on the back. Also, avoid leaning or twisting while carrying heavy loads, as this places heavy strains on the spine.

Manual Handling Techniques for Lifting

1. Before lifting, think whether – you can use a manual handling aid? Where should the item be moved to? Are there any obstacles in the way?

2. Adopt a stable position. Place your feet apart with one leg slightly forward. This is the best position to maintain stability.

3. Wear the right footwear (preferably covered) and the right clothing.

4. Grip the item and hug it close to your body. Bend at the knees and hips, instead of bending from your back. Think of a squatting position.

5. When carrying the load, hold it close to your waist. The heaviest side of the load must be close to your body.

6. Keep your head high and look forward. Avoid looking down or twisting sideways.

7. If you feel tired, put the load down. Rest for a few minutes; adjust your grip before proceeding.

Manual Handling Techniques for Pushing or Pulling Loads

1. Use a mechanical aid wherever possible. The tool’s handle height must be between your shoulder and waist.

2. The equipment used for pushing or pulling must be well maintained.

3. The general guideline is – the amount of force that needs to be applied must be over 2% of the weight of the load. For instance, if the load weighs 400kg, then the force you have to apply must be over 8kg.

4. Always try pushing, instead of pulling.

5. While stopping or moving up or down a ramp, get help from another worker.

6. For uneven surfaces, the pushing/pulling force has to be increased to 10% of the load’s weight.

7. While pushing/pulling, keep your feet away from the load and walk no faster than your regular walking speed.

Training along with Risk Assessment – The Key to Eliminating Manual Injuries in the Workplace

Any manual handling training you provide must be complemented with risk assessment practices. Make sure that you monitor and review the training procedures regularly. This not only helps you stay updated with the latest practices but also ensures that all the techniques are being applied correctly.

If you need any help on creating the right manual handling safety training for your workplace or want to get started with your risk assessments, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly representatives here at Totalika, the best workplace safety provider in India.

About The Author