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Guidance for carrying tasks

This page offers general risk reduction measures associated with carrying operations

Tool risk factor Possible remedial action

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.

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

Use mechanical handling aids to eliminate carrying:
Conveyors, trolleys, trucks, carts, dollies, barrows, slides, stackers and manipulators.

The load weight and frequency of carry

The load weight and frequency of carry - Expert Scores

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

Increase the load weight:
Bring goods in by bulk with mechanical handling, loads which cannot be manually handled.

Reduce the risk of repetitive carrying:
Examine process rates, rotate workers to jobs with less physical demands or increase staffing levels. Using trolleys and carts increases the load transportable each time (reduces the distance walked).

Make other factors as good as possible:
Reduce carry distance, improve load carrying techniques, eliminate obstacles etc.

The carry distance

The carry distance - Expert Scores

Mechanical aids:
Pushing / pulling and conveyors, extendable conveyors particularly useful to reduce carrying to or from loading bays and vehicles.

Examine workplace layout:
Design work area to locate loads closer to or at destinations (e.g. loading bays and stores). carry loads via the most direct route.

Examine the load characteristics:
Make the load smaller, less intrinsically harmful, position better handholds - to ensure the load is held and lifted as close to the body as possible.

Asymmetrical trunk / load

Asymmetrical trunk / load - Expert Scores

Examine the load characteristics:
Improve the design and position of handholds and grips, stabilise and centralise the load centre of mass (or if offset make sure it is close to operative's body), reduce intrinsically harmful characteristics, make the load more compact - less likely to obstruct movement or vision.

The aim is to position the load to be carried close to the body in front of the operative, the load should not hinder vision or movement of the legs.

Grip on load

Grip on load - Expert Scores


Improve handholds:
Use tools (or mechanical aids) which grip awkward loads and provide convenient handles for carrying, 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 operative 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 operative needing to rapidly alter grip to control the load. Straps and supports may be helpful to reduce the emphasis on gripping the load with the hands / arms to support the weight, the load may lend itself to carrying on the shoulder (e.g. sagging loads such as rolls and sacks).

Obstacles en route

Obstacles en route - Expert Scores

Mechanical aids:
Avoid steps, stairs or steep slopes by using hoists, powered conveyors, lifts and dumb waiters.

Consider the work area layout:
Provide open aisles and access ways, ensure space allows unrestricted movement, place pallets or other loads away from walls to allow easy access right around it, good house keeping should eliminate build ups of waste materials.

Consider the design of the obstacle:
Ladders are not suited during load carriage as the hands should be free to grip the ladder, however, a few well designed steps or stairs with good grip on the treads, ample room to move unhindered could be acceptable.

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. Ensure carrying does not take place over loose materials. Please bear in mind that seasonal temperatures can affect underfoot conditions.

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Updated 2012-03-15