Manual Handling


Why we are at risk?

Poor Posture

Poor posture can be associated with a high proportion of back problems. When we sit in a slouched position, we lose the S shape and this can cause us discomfort. Sitting for prolonged periods of time reduces blood flow, which is why it is so important to change the posture.

Standing in a bent position is also an undesirable posture. The best posture is one where the body is upright and symmetrical, not twisted.

Sedentary Lifestyles

Regular exercise can help compensate for the lack of activity during the day. Strong muscles will help the bodywork more efficiently than weaker ones. Flexibility is just as important as strength in helping us perform well, not only at work but in our leisure time as well.

Poor lifting and handling techniques are often caused by:

  • Lack of preparation
  • Rushing
  • Cutting corners
  • Poor equipment
  • Combining lifting and twisting
  • Lifting above shoulder height or below knee height
  • Working in a bent position
  • Lifting loads which are too heavy for the individual

What can we do?

  • Exercise for twenty minutes, two three times a week. This can include walking, swimming, etc.
  • Try to avoid stooping when standing
  • Remember not to twist, either when sitting or standing
  • Try not to remain in the same position for long lengths of time

The lifting action

Before you lifting ask the following question:

  • Can you use equipment?
  • Do you know the weight of the load?
  • Do you need help?
  • Do you have a clear pathway?
  • Can you break up the load?

When lifting

  • Position your feet, so that you are stable
  • Make sure you get a good grip of the object you are lifting
  • Make sure the load is as close to the body as possible
  • Use you thigh muscles, by bending the knees when you lift
  • Look upwards to where you want to go
  • Try to lift in a smooth controlled manner
  • Never twist when lifting as this makes it very hazardous
  • When lifting or carrying, always try to load the spine evenly on both sides
  • Remember to reverse the procedure when placing the object down



Pushing and pulling correctly is as important as lifting correctly.

The best way to push is to put your back against the load and use the thigh muscles.

If this is not possible, keep the back straight to reduce the stress on the spine.

Do not over reach, stay close to the load.

Pulling generally puts less stress on the spine than pushing.

When pulling, keep a straight back use your legs.

So not, jerk the load.

Do not over reach, stay close to the load.

The most efficient height at which to lift is between elbow and knuckle height when standing with the arms by the side. Lifting above shoulder height and below knee height is only recommended when lifting loads that are a lower weight.