Common Injuries When Handling Manual Tasks and How to Prevent Them

Occupations that involve manual material handling such as in construction, carpentry, shipping, and moving companies often can lead to fatigue and injury, especially when a worker performs the tasks repeatedly or for a prolonged period of time. Manual handling covers a wide range of movements such as lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, restraining, throwing, and carrying.

The main risk factors leading to injuries include incorrect or static postures, repetitive or forceful motions includes using hand tools, packing, typing, assembling, cleaning, sorting, and operating machinery. Not all manual handling activities are dangerous, but most workers are still at some risk of injury if precautions are not taken ahead of time. Below are a few common injuries and ways to prevent them when handling manual materials.


Your back is particularly vulnerable and prone to injury when handling heavy objects. In order to minimize the chances of spraining or hurting your back:

  • Warm up muscles with stretches before engaging in any manual work
  • Before lifting, always test the load for stability and weight
  • For unstable or heavy objects, follow management guidelines for equipment use. Reduce and redistribute the weight by repacking to increase stability
  • Wear appropriate footwear and gloves to avoid slips, trips or falls
  • Squat low to the ground using your knees and legs as much as possible. Too much bending at the waist can strain your back muscles
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Cool down after heavy lifting with gentle stretching  
  • Strap on a back brace to help stabilize and protect your back while maintaining a good posture


Along with your back, your knees are a major component to the overall health and function of your body. Be mindful when you lift or lower objects to ensure you are not putting too much weight and pressure on your knees.

  • A good pair of knee braces or sleeves can provide support and lessen the pressure on your knees when maneuvering heavy objects
  • Warm up the body by doing some leg stretches beforehand
  • Squat low and distribute the weight evenly to both knees as you load and unload materials


WIth the constant moving back and forth, all it takes is one wrong step, twist or misplacement of foot to sprain your ankle. Wearing heavy duty work boots or athletic shoes with proper support can help limit ankle injuries.

  • Watch where you are going ahead and be mindful if there are any unpaved roads that may cause your foot to misstep
  • Take frequent breaks and slow down if you feel any discomfort
  • Strap on ankle braces or sleeves to stabilize and provide more support at the ankle to avoid injury