Safe Lifting and Carrying

Safe Lifting and Carrying


The Safe Lifting and Carrying Guideline provides advice to staff on how to safely lift and carry  heavy objects.


PurposeTo provide advice to Macquarie University staff on how to safely lift heavy objects.


Safe lifting is a manual   handling process designed to minimise stress on the spine and reduce the risk   of developing a lower back injury.

There is no prescribed   maximum weight limit for lifting because individuals, irrespective of their   age or gender, have different physical capabilities.

At Macquarie University, staff members   are not expected or encouraged to lift or carry weights which are over a   maximum weight of 16 kg: weights above this require the use of mechanical   equipment.

The following diagram shows maximum lifting   weights for lifting and carrying based on load positioning.

Lifting Weight Chart

Prior   to any lifting or carrying work, perform a risk assessment to identify   possible risks and ways to eliminate them. Consult staff   members for information on known problems and how to solve them. Most   situations will require just a few minutes observation to identify ways to   make the activity easier and less risky, ie less physically demanding.

Assess each manual handling situation to determine the level of risk for that task based on its specific characteristics. Risk factors include:
  • weight of load
  • size and shape of   load
  • amount of time   available to perform the task
  • manual handling   skill
  • actions and   movements
  • working posture and   position when lifting
  • duration and   frequency of the manual handling task
  • location of load   and the distance to be moved .

For   work that is not closely supervised, a supervisor should ensure that staff   members are aware of potential risks in manual handling and how to manage   these risks.

Ways to eliminate or reduce the risk of manual handling injuries include:
  • Change the task - does this        task need to be carried out? If so, does it have to be done this way?
  • Change the object – for example,        repack a heavy load into smaller parcels.
  • Change the workspace – for example, use        ergonomic furniture and make sure work benches are at optimum heights to        limit bending or stretching.
  • Use mechanical aids – like        wheelbarrows, conveyor belts, cranes or forklifts.
  • Change the nature of the work – for example,        offer frequent breaks or the chance to do different tasks.
  • Offer proper training – provide training        to reduce the chance of injury.
Plan   the Lift
  • try   to break down the load into smaller parts
  • check   the pathway and clear any obstacles
  • check   if any doors need to be opened
  • test   the weight of the load by lifting one corner. If it is too heavy or awkward,   stop and request help.
Performing   the Lift
  • stand   with feet shoulder width apart and in a staggered stance
  • move   in close to the load
  • bend   your knees, keep your head upright and maintain the spine’s natural curves
  • pull   the load close to your body
  • secure   your grip
  • use   a smooth controlled motion to lift the load
  • avoid   twisting or turning your body when lifting and be sure to use your feet to   change direction
Setting   the Load Down
  • stand   with your feet apart and in a staggered stance
  • get   as close as possible to the area you will place the load
  • bend   your knees, keep your head upright and maintain the spine’s natural curves
  • keep   the load close
  • once   the load is where you want it release your grip. Always ensure that the load   is secured before releasing your grip
Team   Lifting
  • before   undertaking a team lift, establish emergency commands should anyone   experience difficulty during the exercise
  • if lifting a load with a team member, keep communicating   and tell them of any action you are about to take - such as lowering or   adjusting the load.

Guideline Information

Contact OfficerManager, Health and Safety
Date Approved23 November 2011
Approval Authority

Vice-President People and Services

Date of Commencement23 November 2011
Amendment History

27 March 2020 – Approval Authority updated to Vice-President People and Services in accordance with University Delegations of Authority.

8 August 2019 - Updated Approval Authority from Manager, Health and Safety to Vice-President, University Services and Strategy in accordance with responsibilities per Delegations of Authority Register.

Date for Next ReviewNovember 2014
Related DocumentsHealth and Safety Policy
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