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Health and Safety
Taking care with materials, equipment and work procedures and dealing with hazards.
Manual and mechanical lifting
Lifting and handling strategies – whether manual lifting or mechanical lifting or lowering – must be considered on a building site.
Before beginning any handling procedure (lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying) of heavy or large objects, assess the situation:
- Check the overall size and shape of the load.
- Check the weight of the load. If too heavy, use a lifting device such as a forklift.
- Consider how you can grasp the load.
Lifting heavy objects incorrectly can put unnecessary strain on the back. Two common errors when lifting are:
- using the wrong muscles, i.e. back muscles instead of leg and buttock muscles
- holding the object too far away from the body – the closer the object, the less the pressure on the body.
When manually lifting an object, carry out the following procedure:
- Assess the load.
- Stand close to the load, centred over it and with feet set shoulder width apart for balance.
- Bend your hips and knees, but keep your back straight.
- Firmly grasp the object with both hands to keep the load balanced.
- Keep the load close to your body.
- Raise your head to look ahead.
- Straighten your legs and make sure your back also remains straight.
Do not lift:
- with a rounded back
- while bent from the waist
- with feet close together
- with a tense or arched neck
- if the load is too heavy for you
- with an unbalanced load.
Minimise the possibility of back strain, damaged fingers or other injuries by using mechanical lifting equipment such as a pulley block or an electrically powered hoist. Move heavy objects with a forklift, crane or other mechanical lifting equipment.
Mechanical lifting equipment must only be used by fully qualified people.
Mechanically lifting a load
Before lifting a load:
- warn anyone nearby to keep clear
- check that all slings, ropes or chains are securely attached to the load and the hook
- slowly start to raise the load to gently take the slack
- raise steadily until the load is just off the ground
- check that the load is stable and has not accidentally become hooked up
- ensure everyone is standing well clear before continuing the lift.
Mechanically lowering a load
Do not work underneath a load.
Before lowering a load:
- check that the ground is clear of obstacles
- use suitable supports to load the load onto – supports facilitate sling removal
- place supports on the ground where the load is to be lowered down to
- lower the load gently onto the supports
- guide the load manually as necessary.
Updated: 14 October 2013