A Guide to Manual Handling Lifting Techniques
Heavy lifting, no matter the object, and no matter the industry, is serious business – thousands of people each year find themselves injured, hospitalised or even out of work as a result of poor manual handling techniques and failure to lift and carry heavy items properly in the workplace. Short term and long term damage to muscles and joints could be caused as a result of improper technique, making it all the more important for your employees to understand and undertake the correct lifting and moving procedures needed for heavy goods, machinery and other items. Improper lifting techniques could not only result in injury or illness for an employee, but it could also have a severe knock-on effect for your business as a result.
Manual handling correctly needn’t be complex – in fact, it’s often covered in a short seminar or two to ensure that anyone likely to be working with heavy goods knows the correct form and procedure in order to avoid strain and injury. Below are the key areas to remember when manually handling, lifting and moving heavy objects around the workplace. Before doing so, however, it is important to try and warm up and/or stretch your muscles as much as possible before undertaking any heavy lifting.
- Know your end goal! Before lifting the object, make sure that you approach it by standing directly in front, using any handles that may be available – and know exactly where the object is to be moved to ahead of you taking any action.
- Prepare your body. Tighten your stomach muscles, ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart, and keep your back straight, ensuring you are standing as tall as possible. This is the best possible posture you can attempt before undertaking lifting of any kind.
- Bend your knees – this is essential! It’s important that the upper half of your body remains motionless and in the same form as detailed in the previous step, allowing yourself to get lower to the ground without straining your back. With this, take a firm grip of the object with both hands, equally balanced.
- Start to lift! Straighten your legs out slowly and be sure to make no sudden movements or jerk in any direction – it’s important that you raise yourself slowly with your legs alone at this stage. Keep the object as close to your body as you can.
- Once you’ve lifted the object, start to move towards your end goal slowly and carefully, ensuring that you have assistance from another member of your team if it is a particularly large or heavy item.
- Place down the item in a similar fashion to picking up – bend your legs slowly once you have reached your end goal and keep you back straight. Lower one end of the object down before the other to avoid trapping your hands!
This is merely a general guide and list of tips for lifting techniques – as everyone is different and may not be able to carry out the same jobs due to strength and height difference, it’s important as an employer that you carry out risk assessments on all employees to ensure that injuries are avoided across the board.
It’s also important to remember within manual handling that lifting above shoulder height carries its own dangers and you should always consider the space you have to move heavy objects. Tight spaces in particular could require extra manoeuvrability from your employees – meaning that anyone undertaking such tasks needs to make sure that they are fully aware of the space around them, and of their own limits.
For further professional advice and comprehensive employee training on manual handling, correct lifting procedures and how to avoid injury in the workplace, UK Industries Training can help – simply call us on 0115 880 0188 for more information.