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Guidance for team handling tasks

This page offers general risk reduction measures associated with team handling operations

Tool risk factor Possible remedial action

Eliminate the manual handling in the task

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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

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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, loads which cannot be manually handled.

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

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

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

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

Vertical lift distance

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Reduce the need for operatives 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 operatives 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. 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

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

Grip on load

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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 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.

Communication and coordination

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Improve communication and coordination:
Train operatives to use verbal communication to carryout team handling (e.g. “1, 2, 3 lift”), ensure teams are familiar with a communication method and know what the team are trying to accomplish (plan the lift), one operative should take command of the operation. Try to lift or move the load in a controlled manner, avoid unexpected movement of the load or operatives, ensure gangways and work areas are clear of obstruction and footing is good.

Make other factors as good as possible:
A good posture enabling operatives good vision of the load and their team members will improve coordination, good and firm grip on the load reduces the risks of a sudden loss of grip and breakdown in coordination.

By improving team handling coordination there is less opportunity for individual members of the team handling a disproportionate amount of the load and so injury risks associated with a breakdown in control of the load are reduced.

Postural constraints

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Consider the work area layout:
Provide open aisles and access ways, ensure space around a workstation is sufficient to allow unrestricted movement, position operatives 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 operatives.

Floor surface

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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 members of the team do not have to stand or walk on loose materials during an operation. Please bear in mind that seasonal temperatures can affect underfoot conditions.

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Updated 2017-10-16