Tips to prevent manual handling injuries on the stairs

There are scenarios in both our personal and professional lives which involve moving, lifting, and carrying heavy items on the stairs.

Working in industries such as construction, online grocery delivery, removals, plumbing and heating or even relocating home require awkward loads to be shifted up and down staircases.

How can this be done safely without causing damage to yourself or the item that you are moving?

With 6.9 million working days being lost to musculoskeletal injuries, our tips are a must-read for your safety and wellbeing. And to save time and money on potential litigation claims.

More importantly, they may help to reduce the risk of a back injury, which can put you or your team out of work.

manual handlingTwo-man job

Moving ‘heavy’ items up and down the stairs ideally should be carried out by two people to reduce the risk of injury.

This is sometimes not achievable.  Particularly during the Covid-19 crisis where social distancing rules need to be adhered to.

Communication between colleagues is also vital before and during the process to provide clear instructions on how you plan to carry the object up the stairs.

Clear the surrounding areas

Eliminate risk further by preparing the environment and surrounding area. If you are carrying heavy building materials for example, ensure the site area is clear and other construction workers are momentarily not using the specific stairway.

Remove obstruction such as building materials from the route and for longer lifts, plan a rest midway to change grip.

Manageable load

If possible, break the load down to make it manageable, smaller, and lighter. This will be easier to grasp.

For online grocery deliveries, for example, distribute into smaller manageable loads.

Remove any drawers or shelves before attempting to move furniture to avoid these falling and causing injury.

Bungees, cords, and straps 

Bungee cords and specialist moving straps help lower the centre of gravity of the item that is being carried on the stairs.

Not only this, but such tools also redistribute the weight, making it easier to lift and manoeuvre.  This results in less stress and damage to the body.

Correct posture

bad postureIt is important that the person undertaking the manual handling has been trained correctly. This will involve understanding the right lifting technique.

The head must be kept up when handling, with the spine straight as you lift. Bend from your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back. Feet must be apart with one foot slightly forward to maintain balance. Ensure that you do not lift more than you are capable of. Seek advice if unsure.

Despite following the correct procedures and following the HSE guidance, injuries do occur. To reduce the risk of injury, seek advice and regularly change the work routine.

Solutions from Stanley to help you

moving white goods on the stairsA Stanley stair climber not only provides convenience and a reduction in labour required to move items on the stairs, but the compact machine can significantly reduce the potential risk of accidents and personal injury on the stairs.

Soterspine is the wearable technology for improving physical wellbeing in the workplace. Available from Stanley, the SoterSpine wearable device and app-based training programme enables employees to improve ergonomic practices and avoid physical injury in the workplace.

Stanley encourages that the correct health & safety training is undertaken before any manual handling takes place.

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