Why don’t people follow good manual handling advice?

Most of us know have heard the basics of safe lifting techniques.  It’s the classic “bend your knees and keep your back straight” message, or a variation on the same theme.  But who actually does this?  In my opinion – not many.  In fact, if I had to guess I would say less than 10% of all workers regularly adopt these techniques.  These observations are based on numerous assessments of manual handing in all types of workplaces.  Somehow the message that we have been sending is not working.  So what do we do about this – how do we get some value out of our manual handling training?

The one thing that we shouldn’t do is to continue with the same message.  A definition of idiocy is to continue doing the same thing and expect a different result.  Manual Handling risk cannot be completely eliminated in most workplaces, so training will be required.  To make the most of it we will need look closely at our approach.  The approach I will be recommending is based on experience and the limited evidence available as to what really works for manual handling training.  The key considerations will be:

  1. Control the workplace first.
  2. Find your workers currency for behavioural change
  3. Train relevant workplace specific techniques.
  4. Observe and provide feedback to workers.

The following series to blog entries will explore these concepts in more detail.  Look for some more entries in the next few days.




Michael – Momentum Safety and Ergonomics