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Control measures for lifting tasks

MAC risk factor Possible action

Eliminate the manual lifting in the task

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 trucks, 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 and frequency

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 and make sure they are within the physical capability of all those doing the task; rotate workers to jobs with less physical demands. Allow sufficient rest periods.

Hand distance from the lower back

Examine workplace layout:
Make sure loads are positioned conveniently close to the worker to avoid excessive reaching. Consider tilting devices to present loads within reach zones.

Examine the load characteristics:
Make the load smaller and less intrinsically harmful (eg hot or sharp). Position better handholds to make sure 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 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 zones

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 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 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 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. If the load has an off-set centre of gravity, where practical, indicate the heaviest part of the load.

Postural constraints

Consider the work area layout:
Provide open aisles and access ways; make sure the space around a workstation 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.

Consider the workstation height and reach requirements:
Make sure hoppers/shelves/reactors/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; 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 allow 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 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 obstructions. 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; provide suitable footwear. Remember that seasonal temperatures can affect underfoot conditions.

Updated 2020-03-21