Standard Operating Procedure for Handling an Inanimate Load

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1 Standard Operating Procedure for Handling an Inanimate Load Moving and handling an inanimate load/s is a key part of the working day for most employees. Moving inanimate loads can take place in many different areas of work for example office moves, loading and unloading equipment in cars or unloading stores and laundry from cages. There is no single correct way to complete any manual handling tasks that we carry out in our work place. Everything will depend on the individual and the conditions on the day. Pushing and pulling: Pushing is usually considered best because you can make more effective use of your body weight and muscles. You can see where you are going without having to twist around and your arms absorb the shock if the load suddenly stops. Carrying loads up and downstairs: Always try to use a lift if available. When carrying loads up and downstairs it is important that you have at least one hand/arm free to support you using the handrail. You should ensure that you can see clearly where you are going so avoid carrying high loads that obstruct your view. It is safer to make multiple journeys than one journey with a heavy load or one that is bulky and awkward. You should always ask for assistance when required, and report difficulties/problems to your manager. It may be possible to relocate supplies to a lower floor for example. Storage of equipment: Look at how you store equipment in both your workplace and at home. You should try if possible to store the heaviest (non -wheeled) supplies/equipment on shelving at waist height and then the lighter items just above and below. It is much easier to walk to a heavy item at waist height and slide it towards you, take a firm grip and be able to walk with it, keeping it close to your body. If the same item was stored on the floor then there may be a higher risk of injury as you may bend /stoop to pick it up. If your equipment is not particularly heavy, then you could store it using the shelving but place the items most often used at waist height and the less frequently used items on the lower/higher shelves. This should reduce some of the repetitive bending/stooping. You should try to avoid where possible the use of shelving which is at floor level and also shelving above shoulder height. This will also reduce some bending and over reaching. Split loads and share tasks: If your role involves carrying lots of equipment/supplies, then it would be advisable for you to ask a colleague to assist you. This will reduce the overall handling. If you are unable to ask someone to assist you then it may be safer for you to split the load into more manageable loads where possible. Taking a break during the task may allow your muscles to rest which should reduce the risk of injury. Repetition can be as damaging for your back as some heavy lifting. Lifting objects into a car: Remember to adopt safe posture and think about your back whilst lifting any load. Ask for assistance when required. 1

2 Consider whether you need to take the equipment with you, or can you leave it at base. If you cannot avoid moving equipment around in your car then consider the following: Think about potential issues that may compromise your posture: Carrying heavy objects Carrying heavy object distances, some car parks are some distance away from the hospital entrance Negotiating stairs Negotiating users car One person handling Handling whilst handling other equipment Frequent handling Transporting loads on the back seat of your car should be avoided as there could be the potential for the object to become a missile should you have to brake suddenly. Where possible you should use a trolley or wheeled aid for transporting objects to and from your car which you feel are heavy. The type of bag required will depend on the individual as the same type will not suit all. When ordering wheeled cases consideration should be given to:- 1. Manoeuvrability (wheels/castors) 2. Adjustability (height) 3. Weight 4. A size that will accommodate the various pieces of equipment but not all in the same bag Avoid lifting wheeled bags over kerbs, the disabled kerbs should be used which are situated at regular intervals around pavement areas. More information on different types of bags and trolleys can be found on the link below HealthSafetyandSecurityManagementService-MovingandHandling- MovingandHandlingPoliciesProceduresGuidelinesPathwaysandForms.aspx Upon arriving at your car, open the boot. Cars with high boot sills, bumpers and restricted access can cause staff to have awkward postures, which may lead to injuries. These risks can be reduced by ensuring the following when purchasing a vehicle for your role:-points to consider:- Large amounts of space in the boot Easy access from the rear No lip or ideally the vehicle should have a level entry boot which is not too high off the ground in order to easily negotiate items into the boot. If you have used a trolley to transport the object/s then unload the objects from the trolley individually and place them in the boot compartment. There is no point in using a trolley etc. to transport the load to reduce the risk of injury, only to pick it up as a whole load once you get to your car. 2

3 If the load is heavy then initially resting it on the edge of the boot opening will enable you to tip it into the boot and then slide it into position. Make sure the heaviest objects are placed at the front of the boot and lighter objects to the rear. Identify close parking to entrance and exit when at base and clinics, even if it is just for loading and unloading equipment. Lifting a load from the floor: This type of lift is one of the most difficult manual handling activities you may undertake. If possible it should be avoided manually and equipment used where possible. If it cannot be avoided you may find the following helpful. 1 Carry out a visual inspection of the environment to ensure it is clear from clutter and that you have space in which to manoeuvre the load. 2 Begin the process by positioning yourself close to the load, placing one foot either side of the load, ensuring your feet are pointing in the direction of travel. Remember what you have learned about gravity and posture. Where will your centre line of gravity be when you are holding the load? If the load is too big to fit into your base, or you cannot adopt this stance then you need to ask for help. 3

4 3 Maintain your spine s natural S shape as reasonably practicable, bend your knees and before picking the load up, ensure your spine is in line. If you start to feel uncomfortable doing this, then stop and reassess the situation. 4 Get a firm grip and try to keep your arms within the base of support created by your feet. If there are loose items in a box, consider tilting the box towards you for increased stability. A hook grip may be less tiring than a flat hand hold. If you have to wear gloves during the task then be aware that they can sometimes hinder rather than help! 5 Look towards the direction of travel to ensure that your spine remains in its natural S shaped curve as far as reasonably practicable and then come up smoothly. If you are lifting a load with two or more people then ensure that you coordinate the move by saying ready, steady lift rather than one, two, three. Ready and steady are questions and people are more likely to say that they are not quite ready to lift. An uncoordinated lift means that one or more people will end up taking a disproportionate amount of weight during the transfer, putting them at risk of injury. 6 Ensure you have a stable base throughout the lift. Keep the load close to you. Push up using your leg and buttock muscles, brace your stomach and breathe out gently, and be aware of the arch in your back. 7 Keep your elbows slightly bent where possible to reduce the strain on your arms. 8 Keep the load close to your centre of gravity. 4

5 9 Always make sure that you can see both over the load and where you are going. Never carry loads which obstruct your view ahead. After lifting: It is important to apply the principles of safer handling throughout the whole process. Don t twist or stoop, be careful with your knees and mind the curve in your spine. Lowering the load to the floor: In some ways the issues are the same in reverse, but bear in mind that if you already found the load heavy when standing upright, then it is likely that it will be too heavy for you to lower to the floor. Is the load heavy? The combined lifting ability of a team is always less than the sum of its parts. For example 2 people can only lift two thirds of their capacity. Be aware of height differences, this may affect how much of the load any individual has to manage. Can everyone see where they are going: Very often visibility is a problem for one or more in a team during lifting or carrying? Can everyone get a good grip of the load? Some parts of a load may be more difficult to grip than others Remember all hazardous manual handling must be risk assessed, check with your line manager for more information specific to your area of work. 5

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