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Date: 07/08/18

Top tips for manual handling

29844 Armorgard Article Graphics (manual article page)

Lifting is not complicated. You pick something up and put in back down again. 

Yet more than a third of all workplace injuries which result in someone being off work for more than three days are caused by poor manual handling.

In the construction industry, back pain often occurs due to the nature of the job with plasterers, bricklayers and joiners frequently cited at high risk. 

With this in mind, we’ve put together a 'Top Tips for Manual Handling’ to help you get the basics right.

Aside from following the specific lifting guidelines outlined in the HSE’s Manual Handling Assessment Chart, there are other steps you can take to lift correctly and minimise strain:

• When lifting, lift no more than 23 kg, and do not reach more than 25 cm away from your body. Keep your back straight and don’t twist.

• Avoid bending from the waist and try and lift with a ‘broad base’ i.e. your feet about shoulder width apart or more. This will make you more stable. And don’t lift with your arms straight out, keep the elbows bent and to your side to minimise the stress on your back. If you do have to put the weight you are carrying on the floor, try and keep your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction, have a ‘wide base’ and bend your knees rather than your back

• Change work materials to suit the above requirements. For instance, opt for half bags instead of full bags, or distribute the contents of full bags into suitable receptacles.

• Use handling aids where appropriate – aids can include trolleys specially designed for storing and transporting plasterboard, wheeled storage racks for moving pipes and trucks for handling waste and rubble.

• Store materials to be lifted at a suitable height. This height will depend on where the material needs to be lifted to.

• It is not just the weight, but the size and shape of an object that can make it hard to carry so, where possible, break loads into smaller and more manageable chunks.

• Always try and keep your knees bent when taking bags or boxes out of a vehicle and remember to avoid twisting whilst lifting.