Manual handling

Manual handling

Two construction workers on site looking at blue prints


Manual handling refers to any activity requiring the use of force by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, hold or restrain an object. We inherently understand how to lift from a very young age however as we get older, we can forget this knowledge to the degree that lifting an objects can cause serious and painful injury. 

Manual handling is considered hazardous when movements

  • Are repetitive or sustained
  • Involve heavy or awkward weights
  • Require the use of sudden force
  • Require sustained or awkward postures
  • Include exposure to vibration

There is sometimes a perception that a job just must get done. This can result in rushing or corners being cut sometimes ignoring an obvious risk. As a result, manual handling injuries occur common examples of which include:

  • Strains and sprains of the hands and wrists because of repetitive movement
  • Serious back injuries because a weight is heavy, awkward to hold and handled away from the body
  • Shoulder strains from handling weights above and away from the shoulder
  • Some of these injuries have short term consequences while others can have a permanent and debilitating effect that can impact upon a person’s social, financial or psychological wellbeing.

Lifting technique

Reducing the risk of injury through correct lifting technique when required to lift an object generally requires 8 steps:

  1. Ensure your path is clear
  2. Bend your knees
  3. Hold the load close to your body
  4. Take a firm hold of the load
  5. Keep your feet shoulder width apart
  6. Brace your stomach muscles
  7. Lift the load in a smooth motion
  8. Do not twist your back, use your feet

Avoiding manual handling injuries

When faced with a hazardous lift consider if:

  • Equipment is available to reduce the effort required More people are around to help you lift
  • You can delay lifting an object until equipment or more people are available
  • There are any potential long-term solutions that can eliminate or help reduce the need to lift an object again 

How to report a Health & Safety issue or concern 

Do not think because you may be new on site that you should not report a hazard. To report any health & safety concern or hazard please contact the Hays Health and Safety team by calling:

Freecall Australia: 1800 786 057 
Freecall New Zealand: 0800 562 669 (select option 4)
Alternatively, if you prefer you can also report this by speaking to your Hays consultant. Hays will always work to ensure that your safety comes first and so and will take the necessary steps required to safeguard this. All calls are confidential, your identity will not be divulged without your specific prior consent.

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