Manual handling refers to any activity which requires a person to use force to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any object, person or animal.
When conducting workplace inspections, managers and supervisors should look out for any manual handling activities or tasks. These tasks may involve:
- lifting and moving furniture,
- moving equipment,
- pushing loaded trolleys around campus, or
- handling large books and files on a regular basis.
All staff have a responsibility to:
- identify and take measures to control hazards,
- report manual handling task hazards to the supervisor as soon as practical,
- participate in consultation process during manual handling risk assessments,
- attend training and information sessions as directed by the supervisor, and
- use equipment provided to assist with task.
Managers or supervisors
In addition, managers or supervisors may have a responsibility to:
- identify tasks involving manual handling,
- conduct risk assessments,
- consult all the staff who would undertake the manual handling task,
- take action to minimise risks,
- evaluate control measures put in place,
- ensure equipment is maintained and systems of work are safe,
- encourage staff to attend training/information sessions on health and safety matters - for example, Safety and Wellbeing Essentials (UTS Staff access only)
- organise manual handling training for small groups of staff (UTS Staff access only)
Manual handling injuries are preventable. You can avoid injury by taking advantage of training opportunities, planning ahead and by using appropriate precautions and equipment.
Reduce the risk of injury when performing manual handling tasks by:
- Being physically fit.
- Maintaining correct posture as spinal alignment will ensure that the load is evenly distributed.
- Wearing comfortable clothing and enclosed toe shoes.
- Warming up prior to task.
- Cooling down after task.
- Removing any obstacles.
- Avoiding twisting and bending.
- Avoiding over reaching.
- Keeping hands at waist when lifting for better control.
- If doing a one handed lift rest other hand on your knee to assist with spinal alignment.
- Positioning feet in a scissor formation, shoulder width apart, when lift is above shoulder or below knee.
- Planning the movement of items before starting the move, this includes:
- assessing the load size, shape, level of stability and weight,
- clearing a path,
- checking the route for ramps, and
- agreeing how many people are required and roles and/or timing.
Beware of increased risk if the load is very heavy or you are sick or tired - seek assistance.
There are further general manual handling safety precautions for:
Document a risk assessment for all manual handing activities that present an elevated health and safety risk.
The risk assessment should be conducted by the supervisor, who should also consult with all the staff undertaking the manual handling task and work on solutions together.
Refer to the hierarchy of controls to determine the most effective control measures.
Remember to review risk assessments when new plant is introduced, when processes change and following any accidents or incidents involving manual handling activities.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with identifying and controlling manual handling risks.