Manual Material Handling Tips

We've all heard the saying 'Lift with your knees, not your back'. Safe manual material handling (MMH) is imperative in many workplaces in order to ensure a safe and healthy work force. Here are some simple guidelines to implement aimed at helping workers minimize their injury risk from MMH tasks.


  • Test the load for weight and stability before lifting
  • Follow safe lifting practices. Squat down to the load (if lifting off the floor), keep your back straight, and keep the load close to the body
  • Break up the load (if possible) into smaller components when it is too heavy
  • Ask for help when the load is too heavy (i.e. perform a 2-person lift)
  • Take rest breaks, especially when lifting on a frequent basis


  • Use your legs, not your back and arms to push/pull a load
  • Use equipment that will decrease the load, if possible (e.g. power cart)
  • Break up the load (if possible) into smaller components or ask for assistance
  • Always keep your back straight and avoid twisting to push/pull the load
  • Position your hands at a comfortable height, particularly between your waist and lower chest height

Administrative adjustments

  • Provide training regarding proper MMH procedures and techniques
  • Encourage workers to rotate tasks (i.e. switch between heavy loads and light loads as able)
  • Modify work practices

These are only a few quick guidelines, but if you've implemented these sorts of strategies within your workplace, yet continue to witness frequent injury, you may need a more in-depth assessment to deal with the root cause of the issue.

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