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Guidance for lifting tasks

This page offers general risk reduction measures associated with lifting operations

Tool risk factor Possible remedial action

Eliminate the manual lifting in the task

Eliminate the manual lifting in the task - Expert Scores

Tackle manual handling as a whole:
Reduce the repeated handling of the same load throughout a process.

Use mechanical handling aids:
Tools, hoists, manipulators, counter balanced lifters, pallet lifts, tilt lifts, stackers and forklifts.

Examine the workplace layout:
Match workstation heights with trolleys and conveyors. Manoeuvre loads instead of lifting. Link separate processes in a production line.

The load weight and frequency

The load weight and frequency - Expert Scores

Reduce the load weight:
Redesign packaging, use smaller containers or limit the quantities of product in containers.

Increase the load weight:
Bring goods in by bulk with mechanical handling, rather than lots of sacks etc.

Reduce the risks of frequent lifting:
Examine process rates; rotate workers to jobs with less physical demands.

Make postural factors as good as possible or look to improve associated tasks:
Eliminate load carrying using conveyors or trolleys. Examine the possibility of using team handling for less frequent operations.

The hand distance from the lower back

Expert Scores

Examine workplace layout:
Ensure loads are positioned conveniently close to the worker to avoid excessive reaching.

Examine the load characteristics:
Make the load smaller, less intrinsically harmful (e.g. hot or sharp), position better handholds - to ensure the load is held and lifted as close to the body as possible.

Remove barriers or constraints making workers reach:
Open up shelf gaps, angle work surfaces towards the worker, keep the work area clear of waste materials, encourage workers to move their feet rather than rely on their ability to reach.

Vertical lift distance

Vertical lift distance - Expert Scores

Reduce the need for workers to bend when lifting:
Raise pallet loads up from the floor, use pallet lifts, tilt lifts or height adjustable tables and trolleys. Consider workstation, trolley and equipment height and layout. Adjustability to suit a range of individuals is preferable.

Reduce the need for workers to reach over shoulder and head height:
Self levelling pallet lifts and tables can be used to control lifting height to below shoulder height for stacking operations, examine shelf heights, consider the use of mobile steps or stairs to deal with light weight (and infrequently handled) high level loads.

Organise operations such that high and low level handling is only carried out for infrequent and / or lighter weight operations. The aim is to position the load to be lifted between knee height and elbow height.

Trunk twisting and sideways bending

Trunk twisting and sideways bending - Expert Scores


Reduce the need for twisting and sideways bending:
Ensure the majority of loads, tools and work components are positioned in front of the worker. Position the destination point of a load far enough away from the worker to increase the likelihood of workers moving their feet. Use conveyors or trolleys to transport loads, use ball bearing conveyors to move loads in different directions. Instruct workers to move their feet and maintain good trunk posture.

Consider the characteristics of the load:
Position the centre of gravity of the load centrally and position handholds equally to stop the trunk compensating for an unbalanced load.

Postural constraints

Postural constraints - Expert Scores


Consider the work area layout:
Provide open aisles and access ways, ensure space around a workstation is sufficient to allow unrestricted movement, position workers far enough apart so they do not get in each others way, place pallets or other loads away from walls to allow easy access right around it, open up shelf gaps, tilt forward work tables, good house keeping should eliminate build ups of waste materials.

Consider the workstation height and reach requirements:
Make sure hoppers/shelves/reactors/table heights are convenient for the range of workers.

Grip on load

Grip on load - Expert Scores


Improve handholds:
Use tools (or mechanical aids) which grip awkward loads and provide convenient handles for lifting, alter the texture and finish of the load to improve grip, use gloves with high frictional qualities, minimise intrinsically harmful characteristics, handles or cut outs which permit the worker to exert a strong power grip are preferred, loads with shifting contents or which sag could be stabilised (put in solid container) to reduce the likelihood of the worker needing to rapidly alter grip to control the load.

Floor surface

Floor surface - Expert Scores


Floor surface should be free of contamination, it should be in good condition and stable:
Remove loose materials from walkways or around the workstation, ensure aisles and gangways are free of obstruction, maintenance programs should identify and remedy floor damage. In wet or otherwise slippery areas: increase the roughness of the floor, provide matting which allows the contaminant to drain below it, consider moving to dry systems for maintaining hygiene standards, provision of suitable footwear. Please bear in mind that seasonal temperatures can affect underfoot conditions.

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Updated 2017-10-16