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  • Sharon Burbidge

Practical Manual Handling Techniques

Team LIFT


  • Team handling makes an operation which is beyond the capability of one person possible; team handling does, however, introduce its own problems which should be addressed by assessment.


  • Team lifting enables more weight or a larger load to be lifted.


  • 2 people lifting will only be able to lift 66% of the combined individual capability. 3 people working together will only be able to lift 50% if their combined individual capability. -2 team members capable of lifting 50kg individually, together will be able to lift 66kg -3 team members cap[able of lifting 50kg individually, together will be able to lift 75kg


  • Working on slopes or steps usually puts all the work on the team members positioned on the 'low side', the team member on the 'high side' invariably has their hands much lower than usual. This is a particular high-risk activity and the assessment needs to ensure that safety is paramount at all times.


  • Team lifting presents communication difficulties - take the simple case of "do we lift on 3 or after 3", by not agreeing the system beforehand accidents and injury may occur.


  • Noisy environments hinder communications which can lead to sudden movements not anticipated by the team.


  • Team members may affect each other's visibility and increase the risk of tripping.


For safe team handling the principles are the same, with the following requirements introduced.

  • A member of the team must be nominated to be in charge of the lift and to call out instructions; all team members must be able to communicate with each other at all times.


  • Sufficient space should be available for the whole team to move the load safely at all times.


  • The load should have suitable handholds or grips and all team members should have clear access.


  • Handling aids must be used if the load is small or difficult to grasp as team members may in this case increase the risk of injury.


  • If possible team members should be of similar individual capability including build and stature.


  • Uneven load distribution must be managed by the stronger team members taking the 'heavy end'.



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