7 Steps to Consider Before Manual Handling

Manual handling occurrences in the workplace should be minimised, whether this applies to lifting, lowering, moving, or carrying items.

But few workplaces will be able to eliminate instances entirely. While employers and managers have a responsibility to ensure lifting and handling are done in a controlled manner when needed, employees who are responsible for lifting goods also have a duty to:

  1. Follow guidance which is in place
  2. Assess whether they can carry out the job
  3. Carry out the job in an effective, safe manner

This includes taking into account other workplace dangers (such as potential trip hazards), considering personal health and fitness levels, and considering if the job is safe to be carried out or if there’s an alternative method.

Here at Speedy, we offer a Manual Lifting training course, as well as tools and devices which can make lifting easier and safer for everyone on site. This includes everything from scissor tables, lifting beams and hoists to pallet trucks and board trolleys.

Some of our products within our 4 hour delivery promise include:


How to Improve Manual Handling Techniques

  1. Plan your lift

What is it you need to lift? Is it possible that you can lift it, or do you need help/to find an alternative method? When thinking about this, consider how heavy it is and how large the item is.

You also need to know your end destination so you can go straight from A to B. This will minimise the time spent lifting and holding the item. You will also be able to plan the best route to take and check that there are no hazards on your journey.

If the item is particularly heavy, or you have to travel a long distance, it may be best to break this journey down into smaller sections with stop points so you can have a break and readjust your grip.


  1. Position yourself

Keep your feet apart, ensuring a stable and firm base. You don’t need to stay in the exact same position; feel free to move your feet and yourself if needed so you feel comfortable and balanced.

You should be as close as possible to the lifted item, bearing in mind that you will have to bend your knees, so still have to be a slight distance away. Wear clothes which are not too tight, and you need flat shoes with a good grip.


  1. Ensure good posture

Keep your back straight. The bend should only be in the knees. Avoid twisting as you lift, and always keep your shoulders in line with your hips.

A small bend is preferable to a major bend of your joints. Never bend further back either, which can happen if your legs start to straighten too early in the lift.


  1. Check your grip

Hands should be clean and dry when attempting a lift. Keep your arms and hands within the natural boundary which was created by your stance and feet placement; don’t overreach. If you aren’t within reach, adjust your posture and stance instead.

As above, you may need to adjust your grip as you carry the item if it’s heavy or you have a long way to walk. If so, always remember the process upon lifting again.


  1. Lift smoothly

Don’t stand up really quickly, thinking it will make the weight of the item feel less heavy. Don’t look at the item as it is lifted, either. Keep your head up and look ahead.


  1. Stay close to the load

Hug the load close to the body where and when possible. This should give the load a bit more support, rather than just relying on the grip and strength of your hands.

If you can’t get close to the load, try to slide the load as close as possible to where you need to stand.

Loads should always be equally spaced in weight, but for some reason, if one side is heavier than the other, the heaviest side needs to be closest to your body.


  1. Put down then manoeuvre

Put your loft load down as soon as you can, as near as you can to the desired end placement. When this is done, you can then adjust it if any final tweaks on placement need to be made, by sliding it into position.



Manual handling should always be minimised in the workplace. This involves thinking of other ways to carry out the job to reduce the risk of injury and musculoskeletal disorders. Could you:

  • Use lifting aids?
  • Use mechanical aids?
  • Get somebody to help you lift heavy loads?

Remember that everybody has individual requirements, too. Just because something isn’t deemed heavy by your boss doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy for you. Always be honest and raise any concerns or alternative methods if you’re unable to safely lift something.

If you are having to handle items at work, you should complete manual handling training as part of your health and safety guidance, before you carry out your role.

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