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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