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6 top tips for safe manual handling in the supply chain

Blogs | 13th Aug 2021
manual handling in the supply chain

Have your transport, warehousing and logistics employees ever received training on how to peel a banana, pick a pound coin up off the floor, or put their socks on correctly? While these may seem trivial activities, they are actually examples of manual handling! But why do you need to know about this for your business?

Manual handling covers a wide range of everyday activities yet is often overlooked when it comes to training. This is despite it being one of the main contributors to MSD (musculoskeletal disorders) and a cause of lost working days in the supply chain each year.

Alongside the launch of our new eLearning course ‘Manual Handling in Transport, Warehousing, and Logistics’, we explain why manual handling matters, and provide some top tips for best practice and reducing risk of injury.

First, what is Manual Handling?

When we think of manual handling, we often consider a fairly limited range of activities, such as picking up a box, or perhaps moving a pedestrian operated manual pallet truck around the warehouse. In reality, manual handling is a far broader topic than most people realise. Here are some things you may not have realised about manual handling:

  • You don’t need to be at work to do it
  • The load needn’t be heavy or large
  • Pushing and pulling count
  • You don’t need to be using your hands, so long as your body is involved
  • The load doesn’t need to be an object: it can be a person or animal
  • Anything you do to move or support the weight of a load using applied force counts

Manual Handling – what are the risks?

Many people don’t take manual handling training, or processes, as seriously as they should, because so many everyday movements fall under this category, but it causes a huge number of MSD cases, and related absenteeism. According to HSE (Health and Safety Executive), most work-related MSDs develop over time and the most common injuries are to the upper limbs, neck, lower back, and lower limbs.

Here are our top 6 tips to help reduce manual handling incidents in your transport, warehousing or logistics operation .

1. Conduct risk assessments

We all carry out risk assessments as we go about our everyday lives, often without being fully conscious of it. Transport, warehousing and logistics operations can pose various risks, so identifying and avoiding those is vital. One way to remember what to assess when identifying manual handling risks is to assess the four areas within the TILE technique: Task, Individual capability, Load, Environment.

2. Prioritise posture

Posture plays a crucial role in lifting, and most other body movements involved in manual handling. Supply chain employees should understand and think about what shape a healthy spine should be in when its owner is standing still. Employers should support their teams in making efforts to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the back to adopt good posture.

3. Remember – load weight can be deceptive

Just because a load is light, that doesn’t mean a manual handling task is unlikely to cause injury. This is especially true if the movement is repeated, and good technique isn’t used.

4. Adopt FLUENCY in lifting

A lot of manual handling tasks in supply chain businesses involve lifting, so technique for safe lifting is essential. This can be easily remembered by thinking of FLUENCY, which stands for: Feet, Load, Unlock, Even, Natural, Control, Your back. Remember, whichever techniques your employees use, the important thing is that they assess each situation on its own merits.

5. Push and pull correctly

Pushing and pulling tasks are often poorly assessed because they are seen as a safe alternative to lifting. While they may sometimes reduce risk, they don’t eliminate it altogether and still require the correct manual handling techniques to be used. Remember – pushing and pulling covers an extensive range of equipment, from roll cages to wheelbarrows, so the technique will vary, and assessment is required for every piece of equipment.

6. Training

Employers and managers have a responsibility to manage the risk in their workplace, which can come from the task, the workplace environment, or the employees themselves. This means that manual handling training is a requirement for keeping employees safe and ensuring compliance in the event of an incident.

Transport and logistics is one of the industries with the most reported incidents of MSDs*, so it is vital to provide the necessary training to help employees avoid developing MSDs and avoid worsening existing cases.

To make educating your staff and reducing the risk of injury simpler and more affordable than ever, we’ve launched our new manual handling e-Learning course, available now from £29+VAT.


Why choose manual handling eLearning?

As well as bringing clear health and safety benefits to your operation through a high standard of training, the online course ‘Manual Handling in Transport, Warehousing, and Logistics’ is also designed to be engaging for learners. Our training experts know that in a real supply chain workplace, manual handling is not just about lifting a box! The course content is designed to be industry specific, so learners can easily apply manual handling to their actual day to day roles and responsibilities.

What’s more, the RTITB eLearning approach enables candidates to study at their own pace and research suggests that shorter, more frequent learning sessions, such as those encountered via eLearning, can help candidates to better retain information too. The flexible approach benefits you as the employer as well, as eLearning can fit comfortably around shifts, reducing the amount of operational time that is lost to training.

Ready to get started? Get the course now!

Or if you have any questions about our RTITB eLearning courses, please contact our friendly team by email or calling 01952 520231.