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.

Manual lifting

ACC data for 2021 shows that the most common accident type for injuries resulting in more than a week away from work is muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects.

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:

  1. Assess the load.
  2. Stand close to the load, centred over it and with feet set shoulder width apart for balance.
  3. Bend your hips and knees, but keep your back straight.
  4. Firmly grasp the object with both hands to keep the load balanced.
  5. Keep the load close to your body.
  6. Raise your head to look ahead.
  7. 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.

Mechanical lifting

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: 07 July 2022