Moving and Handling: Work in your Power Zone to stay healthy
Working fully time moving and handling is physically demanding and can be incapacitating, if no technical aids are used.
Research indicates that the economic consequences of moving and handling under poor working conditions are underestimated. Cost-benefit analysis studies show that investing in occupational safety and health yields positive results.
Moving and Handling loose-loaded cargo: The 7 step Guideline
1. Be active
Your body is designed to move. When you stay in one position for some time, your muscles become stiff and moving is difficult. This applies even when the position comfortable. It is important that you change your position as frequently as possible. Make a point of stretching the whole of your body at frequent intervals.
2. Work within your Power Zone
Your body is strongest around the middle. The most powerful area is between the shoulder and just above the knee. We call this the Power Zone. When moving and handling parcels and other loose-loaded cargo, keep the item close to your torso. When you work within your Power Zone, the risk of muscular strain and injury to the joints, tendons and ligaments is reduced.
3. Reduce repetitions
Repeating short, intensive movements continuously can give rise to muskolar skeletal injuries. When you are moving and handling large volumes of parcels, or similar loose-loaded goods, try to move in a variety of ways. Poor posture, or the same posture over a period of time, increases the risk of repetitive strain injury.
4. Lighten the load
Consider the weight of any item that you need to lift. If you are unable to work within your Power Zone, is there equipment that could ease the lifting process for you? The more force required to lift, the greater the risk of injury.
If there is no equipment available, that can make the work easier, ask a colleague for help moving and handling the item.
5. Maintain good posture
If you need to outstretch your arms to lift a parcel, you are upsetting the natural balance of your body. When you work outside of your Power Zone, using awkward postures, the parcel actually feels heavier to lift. The bigger the distance to the centre of your body, the heavier the weight will feel.
When moving and handling keep your torso upright. Don't lean in or out. If you need to bend a joint, try to keep the angle as close to 90° as possible.
6. Wear protective clothing
If there is a risk of hard or sharp objects digging into your skin, wear protective clothing, e.g. gloves. Areas like your thighs and fingertips are particularly sensitive to contact stress. Continuous pressure to a small area can inhibit the flow of blood resulting in bruising or sore muscles.
Wearing protective clothing may also prevent patches of skin from blistering due to friction.
7. Comfortable environment
Cold temperatures are thought to contribute to the risk of repetitive strain injury when moving and handling cargo. As this type of injury typically affects the upper body, wear a warm jacket and gloves if possible. It may also be possible to heat the truck or container in which you will be working.
Good lighting is crucial to a comfortable working environment. Both ambient and background lighting are required to illuminate the immediate work area. Floor lighting makes it safer for you to move around inside the truck or container.
Our Moving and Handling guidelines are a supplement to your organisation's health and safety policies. If you have any queries about health and safety practices in your specific facility, please contact your line manager.