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

A Guide to Manual Handling and Lifting Techniques

By: Susan Hunt MA - Updated: 11 Feb 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]
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
I have noticed there are a lot of basic Manual Handling Training Courses available but wondering are there any courses available for lifting heavy objects like beds frames, mattresses, cupboards, wardrobes, chest of drawers, sofas etc? Something suitable for warehouse staff and home deliveries of furniture?
Eck - 4-May-16 @ 1:12 PM
Painful hands - Your Question:
The shop I work in was taken over 8 months ago. The new owner already has 2 other shops in different towns. There are two of us who have been taken on from the old owner. We are much older than all of the other staff but we are told to carry out all the very heavy lifting of animal feed bags whilst the younger staff serve on the till. We carry these loads for up to 3hours at a time. I had to be signed off work a few months ago because of the damage to my hands caused by the heavy lifting. My GP said the new owner is being very unreasonable & is not a good boss. The other person who was taken on with me calculated that she had lifted 336 kg in a 4 hour shift. We feel we are being treated unfairly. Do you have any advice about what we could do to get him to share the work load with his younger staff members.

Our Response:
It depends what is in your contract and what you are assigned to do, and what is in the younger workers' contracts. If their contract job description differs from yours in this respect, then they can refuse to work outside their job description. First of all, I should have a word with your employer to see whether this work is in their job specification. But also in general speak to your employer about the fact the work is counter-productive if it is putting strain on you as individuals. Open communication is the best approach, so that you can try to negotiate a way around it.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 22-Apr-16 @ 11:42 AM
Hi,I an a woman,who work in the tray wash in a food factory.My TL wants me to clean tote bins,which are 40kg and I am struggling to do it,what can I do about it,he doesn't want to do risk assessment
bababba - 21-Apr-16 @ 2:54 PM
The shop I work in was taken over 8 months ago. The new owner already has 2 other shops in different towns. There are two of us who have been taken on from the old owner. We are much older than all of the other staff but we are told to carry out all the very heavy lifting of animal feed bags whilst the younger staff serve on the till. We carry these loads for up to 3hours at a time. I had to be signed off work a few months ago because of the damage to my hands caused by the heavy lifting. My GP said the new owner is being very unreasonable & is not a good boss. The other person who was taken on with me calculated that she had lifted 336 kg in a 4 hour shift. We feel we are being treated unfairly. Do you have any advice about what we could do to get him to share the work load with his younger staff members.
Painful hands - 21-Apr-16 @ 2:40 PM
I work in a care home, how can I break my sessions down to suit different areas of the work place
Gill - 30-Mar-16 @ 9:17 AM
Hello, I lift my son who weighs abt 110lbs. Can this hurt me?
Is - 1-Mar-16 @ 5:26 PM
Hi , i am working inbusy warehouse ,where our products are windows for houses , the weight is extremly high from 24kg up to 106kg , during a normal working day we have to picking thosewindows from pick locations on topallets by hands. Its that legall ?We have basic manual handling training with short movie showing how to leaft products up to 25kg , in normal workingday we are need to deal with more bigger weights.. can someone adviseme is companywhere i working for breaching the law ? Thank you
Paxik33 - 8-Feb-16 @ 10:59 PM
Whitehog - Your Question:
I work in a small Ford connect Van and for 3 hours a day 3 days a week I have to be in the back of the van emptying anything between 12 - 25 coin boxes a day into coin bags with the Max of 3,000 coins in each box (can be very heavy). I can not sit up straight in the van and my back I slightly arched sitting normally in the van. The van itself in the back has a safe taking up half the space anyway so space is tight. I have recently started to get constant lower back pain since Christmas. When asked my employer for the health and safety report for working with heavy objects in a confined space the simply laughed and said well how would we fill the rest of ur day for u! How do I stand? As the pain is getting uncomtortable now!

Our Response:
I think in the first instance you should visit your GP and ask directly for advice. On another note, the law requires employers and the self-employed to conduct their business in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons affected are not exposed to risks to their health or safety. You may also wish to contact the HSE via the link here for further advice on how to raise a concern.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 8-Feb-16 @ 11:08 AM
I work in a small Ford connect Van and for 3 hours a day 3 days a week I have to be in the back of the van emptying anything between 12 - 25 coin boxes a day into coin bags with the Max of 3,000 coins in each box (can be very heavy). I can not sit up straight in the van and my back I slightly arched sitting normally in the van. The van itself in the back has a safe taking up half the space anyway so space is tight. I have recently started to get constant lower back pain since Christmas. When asked my employer for the health and safety report for working with heavy objects in a confined space the simply laughed and said well how would we fill the rest of ur day for u! How do I stand? As the pain is getting uncomtortable now!
Whitehog - 7-Feb-16 @ 11:34 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
  • Vi3tguyyy
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    @pete i thank you for the look out. But ive already got sack by this new manager for over use of washroom but i fought that case and won…
    26 February 2017
  • PETE
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    @Vi3tguyyy - yes but if your employer tells you not to wear one then it could end up as a warning/disciplinary if you ignore your boss's…
    24 February 2017
  • Nicky
    Re: Kitchen Workplace Safety
    Could you tell me if you work with a commercial dish washer,should it be on the floor or on a counter ,...
    24 February 2017
  • Nicky
    Re: Kitchen Workplace Safety
    I cook at an old persons home .The dish washer is a commercial one ,but it is on the floor and not raise up .it has caused back pain…
    24 February 2017
  • Vi3tguyyy
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    @pete first off i can tell you dont know your rights, imma continue to wear my hoodie or whatever i feel like wearing till the day i see…
    23 February 2017
  • PETE
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    @Vi3tguy - if your boss says you gotta stop wearing your hoodie, you gotta stop wearing your hoodie! Pete.
    22 February 2017
  • BEBY
    Re: The Most Common Injuries and Causes of Accidents at Work
    Hello.. I am Currently STUDYING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY.. and naw is my last…
    22 February 2017
  • Vi3tguy
    Re: Forklift Truck Safety
    I have a question - ive been working with this company for 2 years and been wearing my hoodie from sept-april at my workplace a new manager…
    22 February 2017
  • Keen
    Re: Working in a Warehouse - Safety Issues
    I work in a warehouse where there is alot wrong i.e the carpet area is all ripped apart which causes a trip hazard ,…
    20 February 2017
  • WorkplaceSafetyAdvice
    Re: Expectant Mothers in the Workplace
    Jar - Your Question:I work alone in a shop on a busy high street for 5 hours a day, 4 days a week. Including every Friday…
    20 February 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.