Manual Material Handling includes all the activities a person needs to lift, lower, push, pull, hold or carry any object or material. Because most types of jobs involves some form of manual handling, workers often face the possibility of an injury.

Due to the lifting of heavy loads back injuries are very common and several million working days are lost each year as a result of such injuries.

The most common risk factors of manual handling are:

  • lifting a load that is too heavy or too difficult to transfer
  • Inappropriate posture during lifting or incorrect lifting technique
  • Dropping a load
  • Removal of a sharp or hot object
  • Keep the same posture for long periods of time
  • Personal factors such as : 
  • Age.
  • Physical fitness, reduced physical fitness.
  • Abnormal movements, such as: a combination of rotation and flexion of the spine, activities require excessive reaching of the upper limb.

 Manual Material Handling Injuries

   The most common injuries associated with poor manual handling techniques are all musculoskeletal in nature and are:

Muscular sprains and strains – caused when a muscular tissue (or ligament or tendon) is stretched beyond its normal capability leading to a weakening, bruising and painful             inflammation of the area affected. Such injuries normally occur in the back or in the arms and wrists

  Back injuries – include injuries to the discs situated between the spinal vertebrae (i.e. bones) and can lead to a very painful prolapsed disc lesion (commonly known as a slipped disc). This type of injury can lead to other conditions known as lumbago and sciatica (where pain travels down the leg)

Trapped nerve – usually occurring in the back as a result of another injury but aggravated by manual handling

Hernia – this is a rupture of the body cavity wall in the lower abdomen causing a protrusion of part of the intestine. This condition eventually requires surgery to repair the damage

Cuts, bruising and abrasions – caused by handling loads with unprotected sharp corners or edges

 ➤ Fractures – normally of the feet due to the dropping of a load. Fractures of the hand also occur but are less common

Work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) – cover a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders

Rheumatism – this is a chronic disorder involving severe pain in the joints. It has many causes, one of which is believed to be the muscular strains induced by poor manual handling lifting technique.


Anastasios M. Margaritis
Occupational Health& Safety Specialist.
Bsc Physiotherapy & Sports Science.
Orthopaedic Manual Therapist.
Back Mechanic Specialist.


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