Manual handling main

Manual handling

Manual handling is the effort required to move, lift, carry, hold, restrain, push or pull an object. We inherently understand how to lift from a very young age (if you watch a toddler lift a heavy toy they adopt perfect lifting technique). As we grow older and busier we spend the rest of our lives ignoring this knowledge and lift objects in such a way as to injure ourselves.

What is hazardous manual handling?

Manual handling is considered hazardous when movements:

  • Are repetitive or sustained
  • Involve increased weight
  • Require the use of sudden force
  • Require a sustained or awkward posture
  • Include exposure to vibration

What injuries result from manual handling?

Manual handling injuries account for a significant number of injuries at Hays. Examples of these injuries include:

  • Strains and sprains of the hands and wrists due to repetitive movements or exposure to sustained vibration
  • Back injuries, both strains and sprains or more serious disc bulges and herniations when heavy weights are handled away from the body, lifted with poor technique, or due to a restricted ability to move
  • Shoulder strains, muscle and ligament tears from handling weights above shoulder height and away from the body
  • Some of these injuries have short term consequences; others have permanent and debilitating effects that impact upon your social, financial and personal welfare.

Lifting techniques

Identify the eight (8) steps necessary to demonstrate correct lifting technique:

  • Ensure your path is clear
  • Bend your knees
  • Hold the load close to your body
  • Take a firm hold of the load
  • Keep your feet a shoulder width apart
  • Brace your stomach muscles
  • Lift the load in a smooth motion
  • Do not twist your back, use your feet

Managing manual handling risks

When faced with a repetitive task assess whether equipment is available to reduce the effort required (ie tools or equipment), ask if more frequent breaks are available and if job rotation is available.

When faced with a heavy or awkward load ask what equipment is available to help lift it. If equipment is not available can a team of people assist?

If required to lift objects from ground level or above shoulder height can the workplace be redesigned or objects moved so that heavier weights are located between hip and chest height? Are spring loaded false bottoms or lifting tables of use?

If objects are to be moved over a distance, what equipment is available to assist? For example, trolleys or pallet jacks - and is equipment in good condition for the task at hand.

Prior to lifting an object ensure you can follow the 8 steps to safe lifting.

Reporting a manual handling hazard or injury

What to report

  • Aches and pains that may arise throughout the day because of manual handling
  • Repetitive work that cannot be rotated or has few breaks
  • Any injuries that require medical treatment
  • Exposure to manual handling activities that you believe may cause an injury

How to report a hazard

You can report a hazard by contacting the WHS team directly for a confidential discussion. We will take all necessary steps to ensure that your identity is not divulged to the client.

Alternatively you can contact the office where you registered with Hays:

  • Free call WHS Hotline
  • Australia: 1800 786 057
  • New Zealand: 0800 562 669 (select option 4)
  • Call the office of the consultant who placed you on site


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