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Manual Handling Techniques

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Manual Handling Techniques

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – it’s a hackneyed old saying, but it’s true, especially with respect to manual handling accidents. Whether it’s pushing, pulling or lifting, manual handling accidents account for over a third of all reported workplace accidents here in the UK, so it’s certainly worth thinking about how to prevent them sooner rather than later. Take a read through our guide on the best practises to perfecting your manual handling techniques.

What is Manual Handling?

While manual handling can be reduced to pushing, pulling and lifting, it really encompasses any sort of physical exertion used to move an object, so you could add steadying, manoeuvring, and carrying to the list.

Legislation dictates that employers are obligated to undertake a risk assessment and “do everything that is reasonably practicable” in order to reduce the chance of injury associated with manual handling. This means putting in place some sort of manual handling training, as well as introducing mechanical aids to reduce the need for manual handling where possible.

Manual Handling Techniques for Lifting

When lifting, follow these simple steps:

  1. Firstly, think about where the load is being moved to; how far you have to go will dictate how you approach the task
  2. Make sure you’re wearing the appropriate slip-resistant footwear
  3. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with one leg slightly ahead for stability
  4. Get a firm hold on the object, keeping it as close to your body as possible, and bend from the knees and hips. Don’t bend too far with your back – this will cause injury
  5. When carrying, keep the load as close to your waist as possible, and keep the heaviest side closest to your body
  6. Avoid twisting or leaning, this could put you off balance and cause injury
  7. If you need to put the load down, don’t sacrifice form: bend from the hips and knees – not with your back!

Technique for Pushing/Pulling

When pushing or pulling, keep these manual handling techniques in mind:

  1. When pushing or pulling, you will want to find an aid with a handle height that is somewhere between waist and shoulder height
  2. Ensure that the equipment in question is functioning properly and has been well maintained
  3. As a rule, moving a load over a flat surface requires a force that’s 2% of the load’s weight. For example, if you are moving a pallet that weighs 200kg, moving it will require a force of 4kg. However, conditions aren’t always perfect, so increase the force to make sure
  4. If the surface is uneven, you want to increase the force to 10% of the load’s weight
  5. In terms of reducing the chance of injury, pushing is optimal, so if it’s possible, choose pushing over pulling
  6. Don’t try and negotiate slopes and ramps alone; always ask for help!
  7. For your safety, keep your feet well away from the load and move no faster than a walking pace

Now that you’ve read our piece on perfecting your manual handling techniques, why not take our manual handling quiz to see how much information you can remember?

To find out how you can improve the manual handling techniques of your employees to reduce workplace accidents, or if you’re interested in learning how you can reduce the need for manual handling altogether, get in contact with Health & Safety Training today. We would be happy to talk you through our services and give you free, honest advice.

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