Getting To Grips With Manual Handling

With the major source of workplace injuries being due to poor handling of heavy loads causing strains and sprains, getting to grips with manual handling is an important skill to take on board to reduce any risks to your body. There is a safe technique that should be employed by anyone who has to lift and/or move a load no matter what the weight as even a light load lifted with poor technique can harm the lifter.
If you really do have to lift a load yourself, there are a number of steps to follow. Safe lifting techniques include the following:
1. Think before lifting or handling. Plan the lift. Where is the load going to be moved to? Will help be needed with the load? Are there obstructions, or is the route tidy? For a long lift, consider resting the load midway on a table or bench to change grip
2. Keep the load close to the waist. Keep the load close to the body for as long as possible while lifting. Keep the heaviest side of the object next to the body. If a close approach to the load is not possible, try to slide it towards your body before attempting to lift it.
3. Adopt a stable position. Your feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance. You should be prepared to move your feet during the lift to maintain your stability. Avoid tight clothing or unsuitable footwear.
4. Start with good posture. At the start of the lift, it is best to slightly bend the back, hips and knees rather than fully flexing the back (stooping), or fully flexing the hips and knees (squatting).
5. Don’t flex your back any further while lifting. This can happen if you begin to straighten your legs before starting to raise the load.
6. Avoid twisting your back or leaning sideways – especially when it’s bent. Shoulders should be kept level and facing in the same direction as the hips. Turning by moving your feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
7. Keep your head up when handling. Look ahead, not down at the load, once it has been held securely.
8. Move smoothly. The load should not be jerked or snatched as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase the risk of injury.
9. Don’t lift or handle more than can be easily managed. There is a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If in doubt, seek advice or get help.
10. Put down, then adjust. If precise positioning of the load is necessary, put it down first, then slide it into the desired position.
By following these simple steps and taking a considerate overview of the lift and move before getting to grips with manual handling, so much pain can be avoided.

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