What is Manual Handling Definition: 9 Examples of Manual Handling Hazard

By | July 16, 2023
What is manual handling definition

Hey! Do you want to know “what is manual handling definition” then this article is very useful for you. Manual handling means transporting or supporting the loads by using hand or bodily force is called manual handling activity.

What is Manual Handling Definition

manual handling activity

Manual handling means transporting or supporting the loads by using hand or bodily force is called manual handling activity such as lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing, moving, and carrying the loads manually. A load can be a person, animal, or object.

First of all, you should try to avoid manual handling activity wherever it is possible. You must use proper mechanical tools and equipment instead of manual handling to avoid manual handling activity. But in some cases, it can’t be avoided due to small or medium size enterprises or due to a lack of resources.

Wherever manual handling can not be avoided, Take adequate safety precautions while conducting manual handling activity. There are several health issues related to manual handling activity such as back injury, early fatigue, sprain or twisting, ankle twists, bruises, burn injuries, and fractures. Sometimes mishandling of a load can lead to serious personnel injury or even fatality when workers expose under falling a load or unsafe stacking of materials in the warehouse.

Example of Manual Handling Hazard:

Example of Manual Handling Hazard
Example of Manual Handling Hazard

Example of manual handling hazard

  • Manually lifting heavy loads.
  • Lack of training.
  • The poor griping on the load.
  • Repetitive movements.
  • Awkward body postures.
  • Unsafe access & egress.
  • Poor illumination.
  • Unstable load.
  • Not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), etc.

Safe manual handling techniques should be adopted to avoid injuries while performing manual handling activities in the workplace.

Common Manual Handling Hazards Include

common manual handling hazard
common manual handling hazard

Common manual handling hazards include as below

Manually lifting heavy loads

Lifting a heavy load manually is the most common hazard in the workplace that can lead to an unexpected serious personnel injury if not controlled. There are some common tasks involving heavy loads including lifting, and shifting of boxes, carrying equipment & heavy tools at the workplace, and loading or unloading trucks.

Manually lifting a heavy load can be caused serious personal injuries such as hernias, lower back pain, and other musculoskeletal disorders, etc.

Control measures to prevent injuries caused by lifting heavy loads manually include

  • Assess heavy loads that you have to lift manually.
  • Identify the tasks involving heavy loads and implement proper control measures to reduce the weight of the load and frequency of manual handling tasks.
  • Use appropriate mechanical lifting aids such as forklifts, pallet trolleys, hand trucks, and pallet jacks to safely lift or shift heavy loads.
  • Always adopt safe manual handling techniques.

The poor grip on the load

poor grip
poor grip

Poor gripping on the load or slipperiness of loads from the hands of involved workers during manual handling activity may cause serious personnel injuries. A poor grip on the load can make it more difficult for workers to hold the load securely which can cause the load to slip or fall and result in unexpected injuries as well.

A poor grip on the load can be more hazardous because it will require concerned workers to apply more force to hold the load safely otherwise it can slip from their hands and fall, which can lead to serious personnel injuries.

Repetitive movements

Repetitive motions can lead to muscle fatigue and strain that could be resulted in injuries to involved workers due to the same muscles of the human body being used repetitively without proper break and rest.

Injuries due to repetitive movements can be in various forms such as carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, and other musculoskeletal disorders. These injuries have the potential to cause swelling, muscle pain, weakness, and numbness in the affected area of the human body and they could cause chronic disease if not treated and recovered.

There are some tasks involving repetitive movements including manually lifting, and transferring boxes, segregating materials in the workshop, packing products, and sorting items.

Awkward body postures

Awkward body postures
Awkward body postures

Awkward body posture is the most common cause of ergonomic hazards while conducting a manual handling activity. Conducting a manual handling activity in awkward body postures such as bending, overhead reaching, or twisting can strain the back and other parts of the human body. Awkward body postures can easily lead to musculoskeletal diseases such as pain in the shoulder, back, and neck if workers work in awkward postures for long periods or frequently.

Various factors cause awkward body postures while performing manual handling activities such as poorly designed workstations, work required overreaching, and bending frequently.

Unsafe access & egress

unsafe access & egress
unsafe access & egress

Unsafe access & egress can pose a significant hazard to workers required to walk through unsafe access & egress while performing manual handling activity. Unsafe access & egress can make it more difficult for workers as workers can slip, trip, and fall causing injuries. The severity of injuries can be high if workers fall with the loads in their hands. Some common causes of unsafe access & egress include obstructions due to poor housekeeping, poor illumination, uneven ground condition, and slippery surface, etc.

Poor illumination

Poor illumination can pose a significant hazard to workers required to carry out manual handling activity in poorly illuminated areas. Poor illumination can make it more difficult for workers as they can not be able to see the potential hazards in the workplace that could be caused to accidents and injuries to workers. Some common examples of tasks involving poor illumination include working in the night shift, working inside a workshop, working in tools containers, and materials storage areas, and working outside where proper natural lights are not available.

Poor illumination in the workplace can be dangerous because it is unclear the potential hazards such as uneven ground conditions, and other obstructions causing risks of slips, trips, and falls. Poor illumination can make it more difficult for workers to identify potential hazards such as moving machinery, equipment, sharp edges, etc.

Unstable load

An unstable load can also pose a significant hazard to workers while lifting, carrying, and shifting them. Unstable loads can not be evenly distributed, balanced, and secured while handling them in the workplace. Unstable loads have a high potential to cause workers to lose their balance and fall which can cause injuries and property damage. Some common examples of tasks involving unstable loads include Carrying liquid in the bucket, handling any fragile materials, and shifting or moving unbalanced equipment.

carrying an unstable load can be dangerous if it can not be handled properly because it requires the workers to maintain their balance while performing manual handling activity which can be difficult if the load is unstable or unbalanced.

Not wearing personal protective equipment

Not wearing personal protective equipment especially safety shoes and appropriate types of hand gloves can increase the severity of injuries if they occur. The selection of hand gloves must be correct for adequate grip on the load and protection against sharp edges and pinch points while performing manual handling.

Safe Manual Handling Techniques

Here you will get to know about safe manual handling techniques because safe techniques of manual handling activity have been illustrated here which will help you to protect yourself from unwanted injuries while conducting manual handling activity.

safe manual handling techniques
safe manual handling techniques
  • Plan before handling the loads: Planning is the most and first important step in manual handling activity. You must plan your manual handling activity to ensure the required numbers of workers are available, the destination is identified, access & egress are cleared from the obstacle, the ground condition is good, the working area is properly illuminated, personal protective equipment is being used, and task operatives are trained in manual handling. Check if manual handling tasks are involving strain, exertion, or a long distance where workers can be tired. So that rest points and recovery can be planned before the start of manual handling.        
  • Assess the load: Assessment of the load is to be done to ensure the size and dimension of the load, the weight of the load, physical condition like sharp edge or slippery surface of load, and temperature of the load. Always adopt safe manual handling techniques to avoid injury during manual handling activity.
  • Position your feet for proper balance: You should keep your feet apart to maintain proper balance and a stable posture to start the manual handling task. Your one leg must be placed in front (alongside the load) in a comfortable position and if possible, pointing in the direction where the object is to be moved towards.  
  • Adopt a stable posture: Workplace injury can be prevented by adopting a stable body posture while performing manual handling activity. A little bending of your back, hips, and knees at the beginning of manual handling is preferred but you must avoid twisting your back when your back is bent. Always ensure a stable body posture to avoid injuries during manual handling tasks.
  • Ensure a firm grip on the load: Firm griping on the load is very important to avoid slipping off the load and falling which can cause personal injuries. You must use both hands to lift and shift the load. Hug the load and keep it close to your body as this is called a hook grip which will give you a strong grip over the load. You must keep the load close to your waist and the heaviest side of the load should be next to your body as it will avoid awkward body posture and will prevent potential injuries.
  • Proceed with caution: Once the load is lifted and held securely, move forward towards the destination smoothly with caution. You must avoid jerk movement to maintain controls on load. Moving paths must be cleared of any obstacles to avoid tripping hazards.    
  • Place the load down slowly: The destination for placing the load should be a convenient spot where workers can put down the load safely. Load must be placed down slowly instead of suddenly dropping as it can bounce and hit back to workers causing injuries. You must put down the load slowly or smoothly as much as possible to avoid unnecessary strain and injury.

Conclusion

Manual handling hazards are common in many workplaces where workers are required to carry out lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, moving, and transporting the loads manually. Workers must be trained adequately to identify the hazards involved in manual handling activity and their respective control measures for the safe operation of manual handling.

Always adopt safe manual handling techniques to avoid injuries and property damage while performing manual handling activities.

Q1. What is manual handling definition?

Ans. Manual handling means transporting or supporting the loads by using hand or bodily force is called manual handling activity such as lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing, moving, and carrying the loads manually.

Q2. What is an example of a manual handling hazard?

Ans. The manual handling hazard examples include
manually lifting heavy loads, lack of training, poor griping on the load, repetitive movements, awkward body postures, unsafe access & egress, poor illumination, unstable load, and not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), etc.

Q3. What are the safe manual handling techniques?

Ans. The safe manual handling techniques shall include, proper planning, assessment of load, checking the routes for any obstruction, proper griping, using an adequate number of workers, frequent rest breaks to avoid tiredness, and a clear destination for manual handling.

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