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WATCH YOUR BACK. a guide to lifting. and other manual tasks. in the hotel * industry. Chapter 1: Manual (Handling) Tasks. What are manual tasks? Formerly known as manual handling, manual tasks are essentially any workplace activity that require the use of force by a person.

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And other manual tasks


a guide tolifting


other manual


in thehotel*industry

Chapter 1 manual handling tasks
Chapter 1: Manual (Handling) Tasks

  • What are manual tasks?

    • Formerly known as manual handling, manual tasks are essentially any workplace activity that require the use of force by a person.

    • Primarily lifting but includes pushing, pulling, grasping, throwing, striking, restraining, lowering, holding etc.

  • Why do we need this manual tasks guide?

    • About 50% of workers compensation claims in Queensland relate to what’s called ‘musculoskeletal disorders’ – these are injuries caused by manual task activities at work.

    • You need to know about this guide if you work in a hotel in Queensland.

Chapter 2 manual task injuries
Chapter 2: Manual Task Injuries

  • Are there any Queensland manual task laws?

    • Yes – there is a legislated health and safety ‘duty of care’ for everyone in the workforce.

    • There’s a Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice 2011 which we also have to adhere to.

  • How are injuries caused while doing a manual task?

    • By either a sudden trauma such as a direct blow or over-exerting yourself when you’re lifting an object, or

    • Wear and tear over a long period of time when you’re doing the same thing all the time.

Chapter 2 injuries continued
Chapter 2: Injuries continued…..

  • What sort of injuries are normally caused?

    • Some of the more common injuries sustained are ligament sprain, muscle strain, herniated disc, hernia and soft tissue injury.

    • Injuries to the back, shoulders and wrists are the most frequent.

      • The spine is strong but quite vulnerable to different forces.

      • Refer to the guide (pages 6 – 11) for more detail.

Wrong way!

I’m using my back instead of my legs

  • What sort of activities can cause these injuries?

    • Load handling: frequent or repetitive lifting, or lifting too quickly specially loads that are too heavy for you.

    • Awkward body positions including over-reaching or twisting the body.

    • Lifting loads too far away from the body.

    • Bending over and using your back instead of your legs.

Chapter 2 injuries continued1
Chapter 2: Injuries continued…..

  • How do you prevent getting injured when doing a manual task?

    • Use mechanical aids like trolleys, pallet jacks and carts

    • Use other workmates to help you (a team lift).

    • Keep the correct posture by using the natural curves of the spine.

    • Keep your back straight and lift with the legs.

    • Don’t try and lift too much.

Using a trolley is the way to go!

Legs bent

back straight

Keep the load close to the body

Chapter 3 hazards in hotels
Chapter 3: Hazards in Hotels

  • What are the main manual task hazards in a hotel?

    • Young persons – especially young casual staff as there is a tendency for less ‘ownership’ of a workplace and sometimes this, combined with a lack of maturity, reduces the capacity of their antennae to detect ‘danger’.

    • Stacking above shoulder height – a very frequent practice, especially with cartons in cool rooms or in storage. Results in an ‘unnatural’ twisting or bending of the back, or over-reaching which can cause injury.

      • Use a ladder to access or just stop the practice or paint a line around the store room and don’t allow stacking above that height.

No worries mate ten feet tall and bulletproof!

I think I need a ladder?

Too high

Chapter 3 hazards continued
Chapter 3: Hazards continued….

  • Moving kegs or cartons – a 50 litre keg weighs more than 65 kilos so they’re heavy and awkward:

    • Never lift a full keg on your own, a keg trolley or a keg lifter is preferred.

    • Use other people to help you lift kegs i.e. team lifting.

    • Rolling kegs along on their bottom edge is acceptable.

    • Avoid double stacking without assistance (mechanical).

    • Use a trolley to move cartons – don’t overload.

    • Use your legs when lifting cartons, not your back

Don’t double stack

Rolling along is O.K.

Single lift – no!

Chapter 3 hazards continued1
Chapter 3 – Hazards continued….

  • Behind the bar – when you’re carrying trays of glasses keep them close into your body.

    • Avoid twisting or turning your back when reaching below or behind the bar for glasses or other products.

    • Be careful when reaching up to dispense spirits from raised nip pourers.

  • In the kitchen – avoid standing for long periods working at benches or sinks that are too low.

    • The recommended height for a bench is just below elbow level.

    • A spring loaded plate dispenser mitigates having to carry large quantities.

    • Use trolleys or carts to carry filled heavy pots or containers

Only a few at a time

Chapter 3 hazards continued2
Chapter 3 – Hazards continued….

  • Housekeeping – these functions are repetitive, require over-reaching and involve twisting/turning movements.

    • It is a good idea to ‘warm up’ before starting physical work.

    • Always use your knees when bed making to support yourself.

    • Squat or kneel as you clean under tables and difficult places to clean and don’t use your back all the time.

    • Use a trolley to carry or distribute clean and dirty linen.

    • Vacuum cleaner ‘backpacks’ are generally recommended.

  • The office – seating posture and ergonomics are important.

    • Change your seating position often.

    • Support your lower back.

Posture is important

Use your knee for support

Kneel beside the bed – don’t use your back

Chapter 4 risk management
Chapter 4 – Risk Management

  • Risk management – this is a process to follow to identify, assess and manage workplace hazards. The process (SAM method) is:

    • Spot the hazard – identify the problem manual task(s).

    • Assess the risk – prioritise the hazard(s).

    • Make the changes – use the ‘hierarchy of controls’ to fix it:

      • Eliminate. Remove the hazard entirely.

      • Substitute. Replace the hazard or change for a lower risk option?

      • Isolate. Stop access to the hazard.

      • Engineer. Physical solution such as using mechanical means.

      • Administrative solution. Implement training or introduce a procedure.

      • Personal Protective Clothing i.e. steel capped boots – as a last resort.

    • Solutions to fix it include:

      • Purchase better designed equipment, change the load size, use trolleys or jacks, lower storage heights, team lifting, changing work postures, rotate the task, maintain workplace equipment or employment screening.

Chapter 5 mechanical aids
Chapter 5 – Mechanical Aids

  • Mechanical aids (trolleys, pallet jacks and carts) are used to help minimise your exposure to manual task risks.

    • Assess the load – is the mechanical aid suited to the tasks?

    • Mechanical aids – need to be light and kept close to where work is done.

    • Training – workers need to know the correct way of operating the device.

    • Maintenance – mechanical aids must be well maintained.

Chapter 6 lifting moving techniques
Chapter 6 – Lifting & Moving Techniques

  • Training – lifting is the most common example of incorrect technique.

    • Training staff in proper lifting techniques should be considered in conjunction with other options.


  • Assess the load

    • Where is the load going?

    • Do you need help?

    • Is there a clear path?

    • What is the best way to lift the load?

    • Do I need to rest during the lift?

    • Don’t overdo it!

Chapter 6 lifting continued
Chapter 6 – Lifting Continued….

  • Keep the load close to your body (and waist).

    • Heaviest side to the body and move your feet for balance.

  • Keep your back straight – bend at the knees.

    • A straight back keeps the spine in its neutral position.

  • Keep a firm hold on the load – hug it close to the body.

    • Turn with your feet and not with your hips.

    • Your shoulders in the same direction as your hips.

  • Look up and ahead when you are travelling.

    • You need to see where you are going.

  • Keep a straight back when placing the load down.

    • Bending the knees again.

Keep it close to the body

No twisting!

Chapter 6 lifting continued1
Chapter 6 – Lifting Continued….

  • Team lifting – is essentially an extension of individual lifting, but you have assistance from one or more persons.

  • Team lifting is a solution if you don’t have suitable mechanical means.

    • Use a team lift if the load is awkward in shape, or

    • The load is large but not necessarily heavy, or

    • The load will obscure your vision when carrying it.

  • You need to make an assessment:

    • Pick someone of similar height.

    • Pick a male if you can (males are physically stronger).

    • Avoid very young or very old people.

  • Injuries can occur if – the load is not distributed evenly, the lifters don’t coordinate the lift or only one person bears all the weight.

Chapter 6 lifting continued2
Chapter 6 – Lifting Continued….

  • To complete a team lift:

    • Communicate when lifting and carrying the load

    • You must have adequate numbers for the load.

    • Ensure there is enough room for all the lifters.

    • Someone should be in control and pace yourselves.

    • Apply the single lift procedure (for team lifting).

  • Pushing v Pulling

    • The three parts to this are starting the load in motion, sustaining it and stopping – it’s the starting that’s the most difficult.

    • It is better to push than pull as it involves less lower back work.

    • Individual circumstances can also dictate what you do.

Pushing too high and upright

Chapter 7 warm up exercises
Chapter 7 – Warm Up Exercises

  • Simple stretches can aid reducing the risk of injury

    • The following set of exercises are a guide only(refer to the handbook pages 28 – 29 for more information).