Participants will become aware of:
• Risk factors involving Manual Handling
• Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s)
• The impact those disorder may have on employees lives
• Safe Manual handling principles
Participants will understand:
• The nature of common causes of MSD
• Their role in reducing hazards associated with manual
• The use of safe lifting techniques
Manual Handling is a broad definition for a number of manual
tasks, which are ones that involve movement of the body
whether slight or aggressive, using the body itself (Muscular
force/Effort), including lifting, carrying, throwing, moving,
pulling, holding, restraining or pushing an object. Manual
Handling covers many tasks in the workplace and comes in many
forms, and a broad occupation base. Despite major
breakthroughs in technology and the increase of our knowledge
base, many industries still require workers to perform these
tasks in the workplace, in this country and around the world.
Some of which we give little thought too, such as working in an
office environment, to the more labour intensive environment of
an underground mine.
Manual Task Injuries
A range of health and safety risks are associated to Manual
Handling and particular Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD).
MSD may include such conditions as:
• Sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments and tendons.
• Back injuries, including damage to the muscles, tendons,
ligaments, spinal discs, nerves, joints and bones.
• Joint and bone injuries or degeneration, including injuries to
the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, hands and feet.
• Nerve injuries or compression (e.g. carpel tunnel syndrome).
• Muscular and vascular disorders as a result of hand-arm
• Soft tissue hernias.
• Chronic pain.
Ways that occur
• Gradual wear and tear to joints, ligaments, muscles and inter-
vertebral discs caused by repeated or continuous use of the
same body parts, including static body positions.
• Sudden damage caused by strenuous activity, or unexpected
movements such as when loads being handled move or
change position suddenly or a combination of these
mechanisms. (continue next….)
The spine also provides a protective
case for the spinal cord. Nerves from
the spinal cord branch out through
spaces between the vertebrae and
become more exposed as the spinal
column bends or twists.
Your spine comprises 24 bone
blocks called vertebrae.
Between each vertebra are
spongy but tough cushions
called discs, which act as shock
absorbers and give the spine
its flexibility. Strong elastic
ligaments hold all the vertebrae
and discs firmly together in a
Muscles are attached to the
vertebrae by rubbery connections
The lower lumbar region bears the weight of the upper
body, plus any weight you are carrying.
Your back has a 10 to 1 lifting ratio - in other words if an object
you are lifting weighs 12kg then the pressure placed on your
lower back when lifting will be 120kg. However this ratio
increases the further the object is away from you, and
consequently the risk of back injury will also significantly
Subgroups of MSD
The two main subgroups of MSD are back injuries and upper
Low back pain is the most common and costly of work related
musculoskeletal disorders. Other back injuries include:
• Spinal disc rupture (particularly of the lower lumbar spine).
• Nerve compression (the most common is sciatica nerve pain).
• Muscle spasm of the back/hip muscles.
• Aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative condition.
Causes of back injuries
• The major causes of back injuries are:
• Manual tasks such as lifting, pushing and pulling (by far the
major cause at 50%).
• Frequent twisting postures.
• Slipping, tripping and falling.
• Static sitting or standing for long periods.
• Sustained fixed postures (even the most comfortable).
• Vibration (particularly plant and vehicle seating).
Upper Limp Injuries
Upper limb injuries are common in keyboard work and
processing, production and manufacturing industries. They affect
nearly all soft tissues of the upper limb (including muscles,
tendons, tendon sheaths, nerves and blood vessels) and may
affect the lower limb. Common injuries include tendon disorders
(like tendonitis), nerve disorders (like carpal tunnel syndrome)
and neurovascular disorders (like Raynaud's Syndrome which
affects the circulatory and nervous systems).
Causes of Upper limb injuries
• Repetitive motions (such as packing or sorting).
• Static postures or sustained exertions (such as gripping and
manipulating a hand tool that is too big).
• Forceful exertions (such as lifting a heavy load or cutting with
a blunt knife).
• Awkward postures.
• Prolonged duration and frequency of work.
Ways to control hazards caused by
• Redesign the work and the manual tasks to eliminate or
minimize the degree of handling required.
• If working with a bent back: take short breaks to straighten
your back and stretch.
• If lifting repeatedly: take regular breaks, particularly in hot
weather when you fatigue faster.
• If continuously sitting: stand and walk occasionally. Store
some work items just out of reach so you have to move).
• If standing for long periods: occasionally sit on a high stool or
a sit/stand chair.
• When you need to position a load in another direction: turn
with your whole body. Do not twist your trunk.
Continuing next page…..
• Store loads close to where you need them to save double
• Alternate heavy jobs with light jobs.
• Use assistance to move heavy or awkward loads.
• Remove or reduce repetition in the job.
• Modify the workplace layout.
• Modify equipment.
• Maintain equipment.
• Provide task-specific training (given in combination with other
Principles of Safe Manual Tasks
• Assess the load before you lift.
• Is the load:
• Too large or bulky?
• Too heavy?
• Or hard to grip?
• Could the load move suddenly or is there an uneven weight
• If the weight is unknown, contact your supervisor.
• Can the load be lightened by breaking it down into individual
• Will help be needed with the load?
Consider the working environment
• Floor surfaces, steps, ramps and contaminants on floors
• Obstructions related to limited housekeeping and cleaning
• When lifting, always start in a good posture
• Adopt a stable position
• Plan the lift
• Plan the route
• Clear the destination
Consider the load
• Dimensions-awkward or bulky, to hold or move
• Stability-moving or fluid loads etc.
• Rigidity-collapsing or floppy items
• Surface texture-slippery, greasy, dirty loads
• Temperature-may require personal protective equipment
• Grips-appropriate position
• Handles-access and positioning.
Correct Lifting Technics
1. Size up the load
2. Position your feet by: Making sure they are close to the load.
Making sure your feet will not slip. Not lifting if you feel
3. Take a secure grip by: Positioning hands diagonally. Keeping
your arms bent.
4. Keep your back straight
5. Position head (keep head and
chin tucked in) and arms
(arms close to your body)
6. Use the muscles in your legs
to do the lift not your back.
The correct method of lower the load is the same as above, just done