Manual handling is simple, right? We lift and carry things all the time, how can it go wrong?
Well, since manual handling injuries account for around a third of workplace injuries, it seems like lifting and carrying is not as simple as it sounds!
Yes, manual handling is something that happens all the time. Most of the time you probably don't even think about it.
That's half the problem right there.
We don't think about it.
When bad habits, sneak in, they tend to stick around. But you can correct your manual handling technique and avoid being one of the 500,000+ workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (yikes!).
First, here are our 9 safe manual handling techniques in a short video (or you can skip ahead to the summary below).
Before you lift, or carry, or push, or pull... you need a stable position. Standing with your feet apart gives you a firm base to start your manual handling activity.
You don't need to stay rigid, move your feet if you need to during the lift to keep yourself steady.
Your back is the weakest part and most prone to manual handling injuries. Your legs are the strongest. Always bend your knees and hips to start the lift, and don't stoop over the load.
A slight bending of the back is fine, you don't need to be a professional squatter to get your lift right!
Following on from the point above, keep your back straight, when lifting and carrying.
Don't make the common mistake of straightening your legs before you start to raise the load, as this can make your back bend further.
A good grip will help you lift and carry the load safely. Use your body and arms to help, rather than just hands only.
If the load is too heavy or difficult to get a good grip, you might need some help.
Hold the load close, for stability, the heaviest side should be closest to your body.
The load should be hugged as close as possible to the body, during the lift and throughout the carry.
The load should be lifted to and carried at waist height.
Any higher and you increase the strain on your arms, any lower and you risk stooping and damaging your back.
Keep your chin up, it's going to be ok. No seriously, do keep your chin up and look forward.
It's tempting to look down at the load, but you need to look forward once you're holding the load securely, to make sure there are no trip hazards or unexpected obstructions ahead.
If you need to turn move the feet and keep your hips in the same direction.
Don't twist your back or lean sideways, doing this, especially during a lift while your back is bent, puts you in a weak position and increases the risk of injuries.
When you are lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling, the rule is the same, move smoothly.
If you are needing to 'jerk' the load, chances are it's too heavy and you can't keep it under control. Get help if you need it.