How You Can Reduce Manual Handling Injuries in the Workplace

September 19, 2019

By: Alice Mansley 

 

Manual handling is something that employees regularly do across a wide spectrum of professions. If you are required to lift objects at your place of work, this is classed as a manual handling task. It’s important that managers and employees are all aware of the risks that workplace hazards can cause, and the ways in which they can be minimized.

Identifying Workplace Hazards

Everyday workplace hazards come in a variety of forms; it could be from leaving a box in the middle of the warehouse floor to not mopping up a spillage in the staff room. Being alert to your surroundings is part of taking the first steps to reducing injury. Tidying up after yourself will not only make your workplace presentable; it will reduce trip hazards for yourself and your co-workers.

If your place of work requires a high level of manual handling, lifting aids such as trollies can make life a lot easier, whilst limiting the risk of injury. If you can avoid straining your body in anyway you should always utilize these lifting tools.


Protecting Employees

Every employee should clearly know the correct ways to lift heavy objects without putting themselves at risk. Before attempting to lift a heavy object, you should consider some relevant factors to make sure you're safe:

  • Assessing the weight of the object - is this something you can carry on your own, or will you need the help of a colleague? If you are lone trading in a place of work, the best option might be waiting until someone can assist you.

  • Do you have enough space around you to pick up the object without compromising your health?

  • Some objects might be slippery - using gloves or wiping the item down would be sensible. Gloves also come in handy for work in low temperatures.

  • Is lifting the best option? It could be easier to use a trolley or mechanical device if you have this equipment available.


Staff Training

Many of these points come from common sense knowledge - however manual handling training is useful to remind all members of staff how important it is to be safe at work.

E-learning is a quick and easy way of bringing manual handling training to offices and many other types of businesses. Courses can be a great way to refresh memories of how to correctly lift objects and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Learning how to lift correctly can help to prevent back pain. Firstly, make sure the object is close enough for you to reach down - if not safely slide it towards you to reduce unnecessary stretching.

  • Before lifting, make sure to bend your knees rather than taking the weight on your back.

  • Look straight ahead whilst carrying - this is to keep your spine at the correct angle and so your view isn't obscured.

  • If the load is too difficult to carry, considering pushing it instead of pulling, but make sure you can clearly see what’s ahead of you.


Manual handling is one of the most common forms of workplace injury - causing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), such as upper and lower back damage and repetitive strain injuries. Regular risk assessment and staff refreshment training programs can maintain the health and safety standards of your workplace.