8 Steps to Safer Lifting & Handling

Posted by

Lynne Callister

on 10 Jun 2024

According to the HSE, manual handling is one of the main causes of workplace injury. We have 8 tips to help you ensure safer lifting and handling.

Safer lifting and handling

There are 1.8 million people in the UK suffering from work-related illnesses. About half a million UK workers have a work-related musculoskeletal disorder. There were also 135 fatal injuries to workers.

These statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are staggering - especially when you consider that injury at work is easily preventable.

Manual handling injuries form part of a broader group of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs), including injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the upper/lower limbs or the back.

People who work in construction, agriculture, transportation and storage, and those who work in health or social work are most likely to suffer.

Health and Safety training reduces injuries and lost workdays and improves employee motivation and general compliance.

First Aid Awareness E-learning Course

Tips to ensure safer lifting & handling

1. Assess what needs to be done

Employees should always consider the weights and distances involved, the heights from where a load needs picking up or setting down, and the frequency of the activity. Never lift more than what you can manage safely.

2. Decide what can be lifted safely

Employees will need to make a measured call on what they can safely lift based on their capability, the nature of the load, environmental conditions and training.

3. Identify ways of reducing the risk

Employees should ask themselves if the item needs lifting at all. Perhaps the employee could complete the task somewhere else to avoid lifting the item over a distance. Or there may be lifting aids to help them complete the task mechanically. Perhaps someone else could help, too.

4. Re-arrange the task

Where possible, it's always worth checking whether the task can be re-designed to avoid lifting altogether. If this isn't possible, consider re-arranging the task to minimise the risk. Employees may be able to push instead of pull or break up the distance with more rest points.

Accident Reporting & Investigation E-learning Course

5. Assess the nature of the load

Can the load be broken up into smaller items to make it lighter? Can it be made more stable or easier to grasp? Should circular or irregular-shaped items be packed into boxes instead to prevent rolling?

6. Assess the work environment

Employees should walk the route first and clear any obstructions. Check the walkway - are there uneven surfaces, gradients or blind corners? Avoid steps, ramps, twists and turns. Consider whether the lighting needs to be improved and what personal protective equipment to use.

7. Plan how employees will do the tasks in advance

Planning and collaboration can help to minimise the risk. Before starting, employees should decide exactly what needs to be done and how. It might help to have someone walking in front or behind to warn others and watch out for hazards. Plans need to be communicated to others, including colleagues who work in the vicinity. Pinpoint the optimum time for lifting - perhaps when the area is quieter.

8. Use safe lifting techniques

Safe lifting techniques include adopting a stable position and good posture, keeping the load as close to the body as possible, using the legs and feet (not back), keeping the head up, not twisting, and lifting smoothly.

It's a good idea to make your training content relevant to the specific employee's job role, for example, by using real work-related scenarios specific to your company. These scenarios will help keep staff engaged and help to embed the right behaviours and practices.

Workplace Accidents Training Presentation

Next steps...

A good Health and Safety training programme should start with manual handling. But it should also cover a diverse range of areas. Depending on the individual employee's role, training may cover everything from manual handling to managing work-related stress and dealing with violence and aggression.

The more you can make the training content relevant to the employee's specific job role, the more likely they will sustain the behaviour and apply what they have learned. It's all too easy for employees to see training as a 'tick box exercise' and forget what they are told. With this in mind, it's also important to have checklists visible to all staff to serve as a reminder.

Want to learn more about Health & Safety?

We’ve created a comprehensive Health & Safety roadmap to help you navigate the compliance landscape, supported by e-learning in our Compliance Essentials Library.

We also have 100+ free compliance training aids, including assessments, best practice guides, checklists, desk aids, eBooks, games, posters, training presentations and even e-learning modules!

Finally, the SkillcastConnect community provides a unique opportunity to network with other compliance professionals in a vendor-free environment, priority access to our free online learning portal and other exclusive benefits.

Compliance Bulletin

Compliance Bulletin

Our monthly email provides best practices, expert opinions, industry insights, news and key trends in regulatory compliance training, digital learning, EdTech and RegTech.