Home > Safe Environment > A Guide to Manual Handling and Lifting Techniques

A Guide to Manual Handling and Lifting Techniques

By: Susan Hunt MA - Updated: 26 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Lifting Manual Handling Heavy Objects

If you lift a heavy object carelessly you can end up pulling muscles or even worse, suffer long-term damage to your back or upper limbs.

So it’s vital that if your job involves lifting, you know how to do it properly. Many employers have short training sessions for this but if not, they should at least be able to give you a leaflet with the main rules for manual handling.

Manual handling can be described as lowering, lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, restraining, carrying, throwing or handling.

75% of injuries caused by manual lifting could be prevented. In the food and drinks industry, manual handling and lifting causes 30% of all acute injuries.

How to Lift Heavy Objects Safely:

1. Make sure you are standing directly in front of the item you wish to lift
2. Check if the item has handles which you could use
3. Know where you are taking the object before you begin
4. Position your feet evenly (shoulder width apart)
5. Keep your back straight and stand up tall
6. Tighten your stomach muscles
7. Squat to the floor by bending your knees- DO NOT move your upper body
8. Take hold of the object firmly with both hands
9. Distribute the weight evenly - make sure you are not unbalanced
10. Keeping the object close to your body, begin to stand up by straightening your legs (This will use your leg muscles and shouldn’t put strain on other areas)
11. Stand up slowly. Do not move quickly or jerk when doing this
12. You can now walk with the object(but be careful not to twist your body unnecessarily). Take small steps if possible.
13. If you are carrying a large object which restricts your view, ask if someone can guide you.This will prevent you from tripping or bumping into objects
14. When placing the item down, bend your legs
15. Remember to keep your back straight as you bend down again
16. Be careful to lower each side of the object to the floor separately- this will avoid trapping your fingers under the weight

Before attempting to lift any object it is a good idea to warm-up your muscles. Perform some simple stretches beforehand to reduce the risk of injury.

General Guidelines for Lifting

There are general guidelines - or maximum weights - for men and women. If applying these, no man should attempt to lift anything heavier than 25kg and a woman’s maximum limit is 16kg.

But it’s important to take into account other factors which can change the maximum safe weight - such as how high an object will need to be lifted.

If lifting above shoulder height (stocking high shelves for example) men should not lift items heavier than 10kg and women, 7kg – but this maximum weight drops yet again for objects that need to be held away from the body – 5kg for men and 3kg for women.

Employers should carry out risk assessments for all lifting since the safe limit depends on so many variables such as the individual involved, the height that you will be lifting and the distance you will be required to carry the object.

Never assume that because a larger workmate can lift an object without injury that it is a safe weight for you to attempt. Everyone is a different size and we all differ in body strength.

When You Should Take Extra Care:

  • Stacking items above shoulder height
  • Carrying items up or down stairs
  • Carrying items for long distances
  • Lifting in a small work space – this could mean you have to twist or stoop

Things to Check:

  • Is the weight of the item within your physical capability?
  • Have you been given reasonable rest periods between manual lifting tasks?
  • Is there adequate space to lift safely?
  • Is lifting fairly shared between employees?

If you believe you are risking injury through manual lifting, ask your employer to undertake a Risk Assessment. It usually takes only a few minutes but it can reduce the chances of injury. (If your employer does not seem concerned about the issue, you could point out that all employers have responsibilities to their workers under manual handling regulations introduced in 1992.)

Finally, if you do suffer an injury or feel ANY pain while Lifting or Handling an object, stop immediately and speak to your employer. Make sure that the incident is recorded because it could be some hours later before you realize the true extent of the damage.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
What are the 4 key areas of manual handling.
Murph - 26-Sep-17 @ 6:10 PM
G - Your Question:
My job involves lifting. Lots if lifting. Racking days:I rack and stack 40casks of beer at a time. They weigh 50kg. 5kg empty and need washing before filling, so lifting on and off a washer, then filled then stacked in a cold store three casks high. Brewing days: Loading grain 25kg sacks up to 400kg into a grain shoot then later digging the now wet grain out into sacks aprox 35kg each.Malt delivery has to be loaded by hand 1tonne in 25kg sacks.Thus far this week I have done a malt delivery, x2brew days helped pick out orders and take beer to a cellar and a racking out day. Week in week out. I have explained the need for more staffing and a more appropriate building. Other than that what can I do? I'm looking for another job, however.

Our Response:
Much depends upon what was listed in your job description and whether manual lifting forms part of the terms and conditions of your employment contract. If it is not, or in any measure substantially more than quoted, then you can raise a grievance if your employer is ignoring your complaint. Please see link here .
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 21-Sep-17 @ 3:23 PM
I need advised I have to lift heavy hot lockers out of a transit van on to a trolley every day and the have to put the hot lockers back into the van.There are two of us doing this every day but I have now damaged my shoulders from continusle doing this every day. What can I do to help prevent Gerber damaged being done, I have been to the doctors and got told to rest but as soon as I return back to work it will happen all over again.
Claire bear - 21-Sep-17 @ 10:03 AM
My job involves lifting. Lots if lifting. Racking days: I rack and stack 40casks of beer at a time. They weigh 50kg. 5kg empty and need washing before filling, so lifting on and off a washer, then filled then stacked in a cold store three casks high. Brewing days: Loading grain 25kg sacks up to 400kg into a grain shoot then later digging the now wet grain out into sacks aprox 35kg each. Malt delivery has to be loaded by hand 1tonne in 25kg sacks. Thus far this week I have done a malt delivery, x2brew days helped pick out orders and take beer to a cellar and a racking out day. Week in week out. I have explained the need for more staffing and a more appropriate building. Other than that what can I do? I'm looking for another job, however.
G - 20-Sep-17 @ 9:57 PM
Hi. I’ve been working for an assistive technology company for over 4 years now. When I started my duties were to deliver, and train on the equipment I deliver. For the past three years I’ve been asked to carry out ergonomic assessments. This involves carrying at least two fully ergonomic chairs for each assessment. The past few months I’ve been having problems with my right shoulder. Which I have been receiving Physio for. Last Wednesday I put my back out from carrying my two chairs, and two very large boxes.Now I am on Naproxen and strong pain killers. I’ve been in bed since. I don’t get sick pay just unpaid leave. All of the things I carry are over the weight mentioned above. And a lot of times I have to carry over long distances, up stairs, and over obstacles in other peoples homes. A few weeks ago I was told to do an assessment for an electronic chair that weights over 46kg. I’m not sure what my position is. Please could you give me some advice.
Joy - 3-Sep-17 @ 7:08 AM
Hi, I am a service provider for a large domestic and industrial parcel delivery company. They deliver anything from a small data bag weighing under 1kg to items weighing several hundred. One of the rounds had an item loaded weighing in excess of 80kg. I opposed this delivery to be accepted as the route is only one man strong. The item was too long for a pallet or to be lifted on a sack burrow. Am i correct in believing this item would have caused harm to the driver and therefor opening up my business to breaching health and safety laws if I did not refuse this item? thanks
gbp - 12-Aug-17 @ 10:01 PM
I am a special Needs Assistant, and have been told by my school principal that a child in the school that suffers with brittle bone disease will require a manual lift. This lift will require 2 staff using a sling. The lift will be done 6 times and will require us to lower him to his wheelchair. He is supposed to weigh 26kg. I am very concerned about carrying out all those lifts each day. Are there any grounds that I could refuse to do this. The other Special Needs Assistants are also concerned. When we said it to school principal his answer is we have been trained in manual handling, but is this enough. I would apprecipate a reply as soon as possible. Regards, Bernadette Carr
Ber - 29-Apr-17 @ 10:58 PM
Gi - Your Question:
Hi there,I was just notified that my employer is reducing my hours until they find someone else i.e I was fired.The reasons according my employer were this job wasn't important for me and apparently I don't need money and that I have problems with the deliveries.It's a pasty shop where we do deliveries to coffee shops of boxes of pasty. When I started there the first time they asked me to do it were two boxes of pasties, very heavy which I had to carry to one coffee shop which is 12-15 min walk. I didn't have any assessment how to do it. Let me say that was so heavy I couldn't literally feel my arms for 2 days after. After I came back I said we should use a proper trolley for the deliveries. Next time they gave me a trolley which looks more like for children. So I did the delivery. I hurt my back on my previous job and I told my employers I'm happy to do the deliveries but if they can provide me a proper trolley, they said they'll do it.Well it's been more than a month since I mentioned it and no proper trolley has been provided. Today I had to do a delivery, I asked do we have a proper trolley for this, my manager replied with NO the big trolley needs new wheels. She asked me to lift the box which was very heavy, I said I'm sorry but this is heavy for me and I think it's fair to say if you want me to do this all I ask is to provide me the necessary equipment. I said I'm happy to buy myself a shopping trolley.Anyway I did the delivery with the children trolley and when I came back my employer had the talk with me about the reducing hours.When she mentioned the delivery issues I said exactly what I mentioned before, my only problem with that is there's no equipment and I do have constant back pain not to mention I pulled a muscle in my arm for which I went to my GP. I NEVER said I wouldn't do delivery because I know it's part of my job. I just want to know is this correct?

Our Response:
You do not say how long you have been in your position. If you are still in the probationary period of a permanent contract or are on a zero hours contract then your employer can let you go if she thinks you cannot/will not be able to do the job properly.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 3-Mar-17 @ 2:11 PM
Hi there, I was just notified that my employer is reducing my hours until they find someone else i.e I was fired. The reasons according my employer were this job wasn't important for me and apparently I don't need money and that I have problems with the deliveries. It's a pasty shop where we do deliveries to coffee shops of boxes of pasty. When I started there the first time they asked me to do it were two boxes of pasties, very heavy which I had to carry to one coffee shop which is 12-15 min walk. I didn't have any assessment how to do it. Let me say that was so heavy I couldn't literally feel my arms for 2 days after. After I came back I said we should use a proper trolley for the deliveries. Next time they gave me a trolley which looks more like for children. So I did the delivery. I hurt my back on my previous job and I told my employers I'm happy to do the deliveries but if they can provide me a proper trolley, they said they'll do it. Well it's been more than a month since I mentioned it and no proper trolley has been provided. Today I had to do a delivery, I asked do we have a proper trolley for this, my manager replied with NO the big trolley needs new wheels. She asked me to lift the box which was very heavy, I said I'm sorry but this is heavy for me and I think it's fair to say if you want me to do this all I ask is to provide me the necessary equipment. I said I'm happy to buy myself a shopping trolley. Anyway I did the delivery with the children trolley and when I came back my employer had the talk with me about the reducing hours. When she mentioned the delivery issuesI said exactly what I mentioned before, my only problem with that is there's no equipment and I do have constant back pain not to mention I pulled a muscle in my arm for which I went to my GP. I NEVER said I wouldn't do delivery because I know it's part of my job. I just want to know is this correct?
Gi - 2-Mar-17 @ 4:30 PM
I'm a tree surgeon but regularly undertake verge clearance along roadsides which involves cutting small saplings of 10-100mm diameter down to ground level. The saw we use is over 5kg and when I commented to my employer that this was giving me a saw back they suggested I go down on one knee to cut. This is not always achievable due to the uneven nature of the ground. What I wanted to know was what would the manual handling weight be if I were to cut from one knee down? Obviously there is an issue of balance on one knee too. I would be grateful for any guidance.
Andy - 11-Feb-17 @ 4:08 PM
Hi We have just gone from working 4 10 hour shifts to 5 8 hour shifts permenent nights. In 8 hours we can lift up to 4000kg in 25 kg bags a shift, this is manually loaded by hand from a static pallet into a mulco sifter at just above wast height. Since going onto 5 shifts no one has any energy at home and we all have various akes and joint pains . We have been told we shouldn't be looking at amount we lift but number of jobs we need to do a shift..... At the min we have H&S in regards dust and we now we're rubber masks due to dust levels we have been working in , some people over 10 years. It feels like a modern workhouse to me and other staff. We are allowed 2 20 min breaks in 8 hours even though we asked for a 30 min break for recovery .
Bishbosh - 24-Jan-17 @ 6:11 PM
am builder who needs to know more techniques in building industry.i love to work together with different groups of people around the world. please i need more help thanks brothers and sisters, yours AKAIS CLEMENT.
kelly - 21-Jan-17 @ 7:58 AM
I ordered a washer dryer from a company on the internet and when they called me to arrange delivery they said that they where only sending one driver and someone would need to be at the property to help him. the item weighed 55kg and when I refused the cancelled my order my understanding is that it is illegal to only send one person to delivery an item of this weight is this correct.
Brett - 29-Dec-16 @ 9:49 AM
Pp - Your Question:
I work in an bakery mixing cake on which I have to use 25kg butter and ova bowl of eggs an flour and we have to do dat for 8 hour wit 5 staff and on weekend wit less staff I know ma back will go but I need ma job wat is da best to go about it because it killing me day in day out

Our Response:
I'm afraid you would have to speak with your employer directly regarding this as it should have health, safety and manual handling techniques in place which are specific to your job.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 20-Dec-16 @ 11:39 AM
I work in an bakery mixing cake on which I have to use 25kg butter and ova bowl of eggs an flour and we have to do dat for 8 hour wit 5 staff and on weekend wit less staff I know ma back will go but I need ma job wat is da best to go about it because it killing me day in day out
Pp - 19-Dec-16 @ 8:17 PM
I have started a seasonal job in a supermarket and I am expected to stock shelves, lifting boxes as much as 14 kg above my head and down from shelves above my head. I am in agony and so worried for my job and health. I have had no manual handling training offered. This is the biggest supermarket chain so other people must be doing it, don't feel able to say anything. What would you advise?
Merlincat - 20-Nov-16 @ 2:30 AM
Name two handing AIDS that provide a good grip for lifting.
romaine - 28-Oct-16 @ 12:55 AM
Hi, I am involved in moving large wheeled loads though occupied public buildings. (mixed occupancy, some staff, some elderly persons, some children, some disabled persons, occasional wheelchair users) Sizes of the load being moved typically are 2.5M L , 1M W, 2 M high and weigh typically 1100-2000 kg. The loads are provided with un-braked wheels at each corner (largecastors with solid rubber tyres). I am having issues enforcing the level of manpower to safely push/pull these and believe the correct assessment is thatpersons moving a wheeled load can encountera load of2% of the load weight on level flat ground, rising to 10% on more uneven ground or gradients up to 1:12. (typical push distances are 50-200M) So for a typical 2000kg load over a 1:12 gradient the load is 200kg. (10% or 2000 kg) For this I assume 8 persons are needed (8 x 25 kg = 200 kg), 25 kg being a safe push limit per person. Does this sound plausible ? If not, how would you asses this? In addition, would you expect a banksman or other watcher to go ahead of the load to open doors, look ahead etc for persons who may be approaching the travelling load. Many thanks Dave
Dave - 8-Oct-16 @ 5:12 PM
Hi, I am involved in moving large wheeled loads though occupied public buildings. (mixed occupancy, some staff, some elderly persons, some children, some disabled persons, occasional wheelchair users) Sizes of the load being moved typically are 2.5M L , 1M W, 2 M high and weigh typically 1100-2000 kg. The loads are provided with un-braked wheels at each corner (largecastors with solid rubber tyres). I am having issues enforcing the level of manpower to safely push/pull these and believe the correct assessment is thatpersons moving a wheeled load can encountera load of2% of the load weight on level flat ground, rising to 10% on more uneven ground or gradients up to 1:12. (typical push distances are 50-200M) So for a typical 2000kg load over a 1:12 gradient the load is 200kg. (10% or 2000 kg) For this I assume 8 persons are needed (8 x 25 kg = 200 kg), 25 kg being a safe push limit per person. Does this sound plausible ? If not, how would you asses this? In addition, would you expect a banksman or other watcher to go ahead of the load to open doors, look ahead etc for persons who may be approaching the travelling load. Many thanks Dave
Dave - 7-Oct-16 @ 3:36 PM
Hi, I deliver Veg to restaurants, I have carry sacks off potatoes, onions and big boxes down a narrow passage then down a set off woren steps which narrow down to approximately 18" ins for about 2 steps, to me a total health risk, can I refuse to deliver to there back door. I Can supply pic if needed
Total risk - 15-Sep-16 @ 6:54 PM
I was always educated to believe that you lift the weight your comfortable with ,not what someone expects you to lift ! Have a misunderstood ? IfI am ,at any point uncomfortable with the weight I'm lifting is a self assessment enough to safe guard injury ? I'm currently lifting 10L paint tins - lifting , bending , decanting !
Don - 23-Aug-16 @ 10:37 PM
I am the safety officer at my workplace. Could you outline the risk of heavy items stored at height, e.g. on top of a cupboard.Please could you also advise on the safest way to bring these items down. Many thanks!
Louise - 16-Aug-16 @ 10:54 AM
@chris - I would visit your GP and ask for a doctors note if you feel you can't do the work expected of you. It covers your back then. Rob.
Rob1954 - 28-Jul-16 @ 9:56 AM
i drive a hackney cab, and have just applied to my local council for an exception certificate, as i am being treated at the moment for inflamatory arthritis, affecting hands, feet, shoulder and knees, but also can vary from day to day.they are saying technically i still have to do the wheelchair jobs until they have made a decision on whether they will issue me with an exception, i feel that i could be putting myself or the customer at risk.where do i stand on this
chris - 27-Jul-16 @ 12:14 AM
hi , I am a road worker and I am expected to lift kerbs weighing 40kg and 70kg . Advice please , I have been in this job only 2 years and feel like i have aged 20 years.
sting - 12-Jul-16 @ 8:42 PM
Iris - Your Question:
We are a group of school cleaners ages ranging from 55-77 ,for years the caretaker has fetched the large wheeled bin from the compound which is 150-200 yards away for us to deposit our rubbish sacks and has then wheeled it back.Now we have a new "site manager" and he point blank refuses to do this and insists that we the cleaners take our own rubbish to the bin compound.these sacks vary in weight but sometimes they can be extremely heavy and as the distance is over 100 yards the older ladies are struggling added to this the surface over which we walk is very rough and irregular.we have been told we have no choice even though it isn't in our job description ,are we being unreasonable and a little too militant if we refuse to do this task?

Our Response:
Much depends on what it says in your job description and perhaps your former site manager did this task through kindness, rather than part of his job description. If you are finding this task difficult, you need to collectively put this directly to your line manager or higher and ask for an alternative way for the task to be carried out. This is one area where a bit of negotiation will help, rather than an outright 'militant' revolt. If your managers won't listen or ignore your request, then you can present it as a grievance, please see link here. I hope this helps.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 14-Jun-16 @ 11:26 AM
We are a group of school cleaners ages ranging from 55-77 ,for years the caretaker has fetched the large wheeled bin from the compound which is 150-200 yards away for us to deposit our rubbish sacks and has then wheeled it back.Now we have a new "site manager" and he point blank refuses to do this and insists that we the cleaners take our own rubbish to the bin compound .these sacks vary in weight but sometimes they can be extremely heavy and as the distance is over 100 yards the older ladies are struggling added to this the surface over which we walk is very rough and irregular .we have been told we have no choice even though it isn't in our job description ,are we being unreasonable and a little too militant if we refuse to do this task?
Iris - 13-Jun-16 @ 9:02 AM
I work for a domestic goods company. Washing machines fridges cookers. I get forced to carry items over 1st floor most times 2nd 3rd sometimes 4th floor my boss charges customers for this as a floor charge and tells me i charged for you to take it up so do it and pays me £10 each time no matter what floor when i refuse and say my back hurts he gets in a mood with me and says its our job now he is sacking me excuse is wont be doing deliveries anymore. Because i moaned about a 3rd floor 3 items delivery today.
Wacko - 9-Jun-16 @ 5:02 PM
JAC - Your Question:
I work for a Charity with a furniture shop and I too am looking for a suitable M & h course for those collecting furniture / carrying our house clearances. The only one I have found is cost prohibitive £1200 - British Institute of Removers.

Our Response:
If manual handling is part of your job, you could approach your company to request it instructs you/all workers on manual handling techniques for furniture removal. In the meantime, if you wanted some informal training, you may find tutorials on YouTube. Otherwise, I'm afraid other tutorials are costly as you've noted.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 26-May-16 @ 10:16 AM
I work for a Charity with a furniture shop and I too am looking for a suitable M & h course for those collecting furniture / carrying our house clearances.The only one I have found is cost prohibitive £1200 - British Institute of Removers.
JAC - 25-May-16 @ 8:29 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: Working in a Warehouse - Safety Issues
    Ms - Your Question:Hi I am after some advice regarding chemicals in a warehouse I have a paint shop in the middle of…
    12 December 2017
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: Legal Minimum Temperature in a Warehouse?
    Aubrey - Your Question:I work in a warehouse with no heating apart from a fan heater and it’s freezing should I…
    12 December 2017
  • Aubrey
    Re: Legal Minimum Temperature in a Warehouse?
    I work in a warehouse with no heating apart from a fan heater and it’s freezing should I be working in this weather
    11 December 2017
  • Dodzi
    Re: Dealing with Employee Theft
    I been discriminated by stealing i had appeal with High Manager and he just asked me some questions and they sent me letter after…
    7 December 2017
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: Dangers of Dust in the Workplace
    J - Your Question:I have worked in a very dusty warehouse for the passed 12 years. I have had an eye test and they said I…
    5 December 2017
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    Pat - Your Question:Hi, can you tell me is it a legal requirement to wear a seat belt on a forklift truck when reversing?
    4 December 2017
  • Pat
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    Hi, can you tell me is it a legal requirement to wear a seat belt on a forklift truck when reversing?.
    3 December 2017
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: Legal Minimum Temperature in a Warehouse?
    Doc - Your Question:I work for a company that's employed by Mars (contract C°) the mars personnel are well cared…
    1 December 2017
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: How Many Breaks am I Entitled to?
    Crazych1ck - Your Question:I am a community care worker which involves a lot of strenuous moving and handling. I also drive…
    30 November 2017
  • Doc
    Re: Legal Minimum Temperature in a Warehouse?
    I work for a company that's employed by Mars (contract C°) the mars personnel are well cared for but we have to…
    30 November 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the WorkplaceSafetyAdvice website. Please read our Disclaimer.