Manual Handling

Improper lifting from manual handling is the leading cause of back injury.  If mechanical handling methods are not possible, utilize the following guidelines:


  • Know your capabilities, only begin lifts that you can handle.
  • Can you handle the load yourself or do you need assistance?
  • Is there a clear walkway with good lighting to the work area?
  • Wear gloves to protect against cuts and punctures.
  • Wear safety boots or shoes to protect from falling loads.
  • Carry out a trial lift by rocking the load from side to side and try to lift a small amount to get the “feel” for it

Good Handling Technique

  • Get as close to the load as possible, and keep it close to you while lifting, carrying, and lowering it. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, one foot slightly forward pointing in the direction you are going.
  • If the object is small enough to fit between your feet, bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Get a secure grip on the load.
  • Breathe in before lifting as this helps to support the spine.
  • Do not lift a load that will obscure your vision.
  • Lift slowly and smoothly.
  • Keep your face forward.
  • Avoid twisting your body when lifting or carrying a load.
  • When lifting to a height from the floor, lift in two stages
  • When two or more people lift a load, one person must take control to coordinate the lift.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Name two hazards when lifting and carrying?
  • Why is it important to not rotate with a heavy object?