Control measures for team handling tasks

MAC risk factor Possible action

Eliminate the manual handling in the task

Tackle manual handling as a whole:
Ask yourself, why is team handling required?

Use mechanical handling aids:
Hoists, manipulators, counter-balanced lifters, pallet trucks, 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.

Load weight

Reduce the load weight:
Does the load need to be packaged in such a size/weight that team handling is required? Redesign packaging, use smaller containers or limit the quantities of product in containers. Speak to the manufacturer about redesigning the product.

Increase the load weight:
Bring goods in by bulk, loads which cannot be manually handled by a team.

Hand distance from the lower back

Examine workplace layout:
Make sure loads are positioned conveniently close to the workers to avoid excessive reaching.

Examine the load characteristics:
Where applicable, make the load smaller, and less intrinsically harmful (eg 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 which make workers reach:
Open up shelf gaps; angle work surfaces towards the workers; keep the work area clear of waste materials; encourage workers to move their feet rather than rely on their ability to reach.

Vertical lift zones

Reduce the need for workers to bend when lifting:
Raise pallet loads up from the floor; use pallet trucks, 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 trucks and tables can be used to control lifting height to below shoulder height for stacking operations; examine shelf heights. Organise operations so 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.

Torso twisting and sideways bending

Reduce the need for twisting and sideways bending:
Make sure the load is distributed evenly and positioned in front of the workers handling it. Position the destination point of a load far enough away from the workers to increase the likelihood of them moving their feet and prevent them twisting and reaching to position the load. 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 torso posture.

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

Postural constraints

Consider the work area layout:
Provide open aisles and access ways; make sure the space around a load is sufficient to allow unrestricted movement; position workers far enough apart so they do not get in each other's way; place pallets or other loads away from walls to allow easy access all around; open up shelf gaps. Good housekeeping should eliminate build-ups of waste materials.
Make sure the load is large enough to prevent workers impeding each other.

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

Grip on load

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

Floor surface

Floor surface should be free of contamination, in good condition and stable:
Remove loose materials from walkways or around the workstation; make sure aisles and gangways are free of obstruction. Maintenance programmes 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; provide suitable footwear. Make sure team members do not have to stand or walk on loose materials during an operation. Remember that seasonal temperatures can affect underfoot conditions.

Carry distance

Provide mechanical aids:
Extendable conveyors can reduce carrying to and from loading bays and vehicles.

Examine workplace layout:
Design the work area to locate loads closer to or at their destination, eg loading bays and stores. Carry loads using the most direct route. If the load has to be carried over a long distance, provide suitable (waist height) areas for the carriers to place the load to rest or readjust their grip.

Obstacles on route

Provide mechanical aids:
Where practical, 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; make sure space allows unrestricted movement; place pallets or other loads away from walls to allow easy access all around. Good housekeeping should eliminate build-ups of waste materials.

Consider the design of the obstacle:
Ladders are not suitable when team handling loads unless light materials are handled and three points of contact on the ladder can be maintained. However, a few well-designed steps or stairs with good grip on the treads, and ample room to move unhindered could be acceptable.

Communication and co-ordination

Improve communication and co-ordination:
Train workers to use verbal communication to carry out team handling (eg '1, 2, 3 lift'). Make sure teams are familiar with a communication method and know what the team is trying to accomplish (plan the lift) - one worker should take command of the operation. Try to lift or move the load in a controlled manner; avoid unexpected movement of the load or workers. Make sure gangways and work areas are clear of obstruction and footing is good.

Make other factors as good as possible:
A good posture allowing workers good vision of the load and their team members will improve co-ordination. Good and firm grip on the load will reduce the risks of a sudden loss of grip and breakdown in co-ordination.

Better team handling co-ordination will reduce the risks of injury associated with a breakdown in control of the load.

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Updated 2021-01-26