Protecting the Backbone of Construction: Minimising Risks from Material Handling

Author Allan Tregear Calendar 8 January 2024

Construction workers face physically demanding challenges on a daily basis which can significantly impact their lives. Many regulations and initiatives aim to warn workers of the associated risks, including the rising concern of long-term health issues from improper manual handling. We’ll explore such regulations and dive deeper into the best practices when lifting and handling material and the best equipment to minimise adverse health.

Routine lifting of heavy objects, daily exposure to whole-body vibrations, and repeatedly performing forceful tasks can take a toll on a worker’s body. Research has shown workers can develop symptoms of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) over time – an injury or condition that can affect the back, joints and limbs. MSD can present itself in many forms, but the main symptoms include pain, stiffness, and limitation of movement. They can even lead to long-standing disability, which affects the quality of life and independence. Estimates indicate that 42,000 people in construction are affected by MSD conditions, which accounts for 53% of all ill health in the sector. 

The prevention of MSD conditions entails understanding how to lift heavy materials, using the right equipment to minimise strain on the body and taking the necessary steps to minimise overall risks.

Minimising risks

The current law requires that employers control the risks to the health of their workers, including the prevention of MSD-inducing lifting tasks. The on-site management’s role is to ensure workers refrain from lifting overly heavy objects in relation to their body weight and that they are educated on how to use the appropriate machinery. 

In addition, to comply with handling regulations, employers must carry out risk assessments in their working environment and provide the appropriate equipment to ensure workers can avoid hazardous operations. Reducing risks will minimise the number of workers taking sick leave and lower the sector’s 53% ill health statistic.


Employees must ensure that machinery is maintained well to be used whenever necessary. Such regular maintenance is guaranteed with equipment hire as they regularly undergo quality checks. At The Hireman, we have dedicated workshop teams trained in product repair, extending the life cycle of our equipment and ensuring that they are continuously operating at optimum efficiency.

Using the right equipment

The Hireman can provide all the equipment necessary to keep workers safe and not lift exceedingly heavy objects on-site. For transportation, The Hireman provide pallet trucks, both manual and powered and transformer trolleys that can travel heavy objects on flat ground throughout the site. If you need something smaller, the furniture skate is ideal. 

Carrying any object upstairs can be dangerous, even more so if the item is heavy, so the Stairclimber Sack Truck is the ultimate aid when moving boxes, crates, drums and other heavy items upstairs. 

Handling flat materials can be difficult and uncomfortable. Hence, tools like the Grabo and the Dry Wall Panel/HVAC Duct Lifter are perfect assistants for carrying and holding flat objects in place to prevent workers from holding flat materials for long periods. 

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