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Manual handling is the transportation of a load by hand or bodily force, whether it be pushing, pulling, or carrying, which lift engineers carry out on a regular basis. This is unavoidable to a certain extent but doing so isn’t without its health risks. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve suffered an injury as an immediate consequence of performing an action, the constant wear and tear it causes can create problems later down the line.

What are the risks of manual handling? 

Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries, and the lift industry is no exception given the physical nature of working within it. If the correct manual handling training isn’t followed, it can cause a variety of injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as arm, leg, and joint pain.

Lifts are designed to transport heavy loads vertically which requires an incredible amount of force. Most standard lifts can carry a load of close to 3000kg, which explains why they need to be made of several heavy and extremely powerful components, including:

  • Guides
  • Overspeed governors
  • Ropes
  • Landing entrances
  • Doors
  • Buffers
  • Motors

The manual transportation of all these parts only heightens the risks faced by lift engineers. Engineers also often work in narrow, tight spaces leading them to hold these parts in uncomfortable and unnatural positions, placing further stress on their bodies. It’s easy to think you won’t do yourself any harm if you don’t feel any significant pain at the time, but it’s important to get into good habits to limit repetitive strain.

Manual handling training

It will never be possible to fully avoid manual handling, so you need to get familiar with your own body and only do what is comfortably within your capabilities. You can determine this by carrying out a quick assessment prior to performing an action, considering factors such as the size, shape, and position of the load. In most cases, machinery or tools will be available to help, so there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks.

If you do decide that it is safe to move the load, there are a few ways you can do so which will reduce the impact it has on your body. Bending your knees rather than your back, and only lifting from above ground level are just a couple of these.

Keep your knowledge updated with the latest advice to follow when assessing and performing manual handling by taking our toolbox talk here.

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