5 Most Common Tasks with Manual Handling of goods

Written by Matilda Odell
Health, Safety & Ergonomics, News & Insights

Manual handling is an ordinary and necessary task in warehouses and distribution centres. It involves the physical movement of materials, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, and moving objects without the aid of machinery. While manual handling is a necessary part of the job, it can also be a source of injury and discomfort. Using the correct techniques and equipment is essential to minimize the risk of injury and maximize the efficiency of manual material handling tasks.

It is essential to be aware of the risks associated with manual handling and to take the necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy. In this article, we, therefore, will walk you through the most common manual material handling tasks in warehouses.

What is manual handling?

Manual handling includes the moving and lifting of objects by hand. It is a prevalent task in warehouses, where workers often have to lift boxes and move pallets of goods.

It involves lifting, lowering, loading, and unloading materials from pallets, trucks, or containers and moving them to different locations on the site. Operators need to know the requirements and techniques to move items securely in manual material handling tasks. This includes understanding the type of force somebody must use and other relevant information about the task. Please properly assess the situation to avoid serious injuries. Therefore employers must ensure that their operators know the necessary safety protocols and techniques for manual handling tasks. And provide them with the right equipment and training to do these jobs safely. Doing so can help prevent injuries and ensure the workplace remains safe and productive.

Although many companies have adopted automated methods of handling items and loads in the workplace, some require manual handling. Despite technological growth, other companies are still using manual handling, and humans must use their strength and energy to handle loads manually. In this case, various types of handling tasks are used. These tasks include lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing, and moving.

Operator performing a manual handling task in a warehouse


In simple terms, manual handling lifting involves picking up a load from the ground to a higher level for stacking, loading, or creating a better position for carrying a load. Lifting is a manual handling task used in almost all the movement of loads or items in a warehouse. As a result, lifting is one of the most common manual handling tasks in warehouses and distribution centres. Since the weight varies widely, various loads require different lifting positioning and energy.


Lowering is a manual handling task involving the movement of an item from a higher level to a lower level. It is used widely in warehouses and distribution centres because it is used simultaneously with lifting. Every time lifting is involved, lowering occurs simultaneously. Through this, it is one of the essential manual handling tasks in the workplace. It is used in unstacking, stacking, loading, offloading, carrying, etc.


Pulling is a manual handling task involving using force to drag an item when it is behind you. In this case, pulling can be done for large and small items. Although it is used for small and lighter items, it is not always the best practice; it depends on the product’s nature. Some products are packaged in wheeled boxes, which can be pulled easily on the ground from one place to another. When pulling heavier materials, they should be placed on trolleys or carts to move them from one place to another without much effort and to ensure safe work procedures are intact. As a result, pulling is a commonly used manual handling task in warehouses.


Pushing is a manual handling task involving pushing an item on the floor. This means that one exerts a force on an item before them to move it from one place to another. Pushing is mainly used for short-distance movements of materials to reduce the impact of friction on it. Most items that require pushing are heavy and, hence, pushed for a short distance before finding other means of movement.

Pushing and pulling are used for the same purposes in the facility and help reduce the need to lift items. Even short distances, some items require lifting and lowering to ensure they are not damaged from friction. However, pushing is recommended for large, heavier objects whose lifting and lowering can be tedious. Although items should be lifted at some point, lifting and lowering heavy items may be difficult; hence, people must drag them to minimize excessive force and avoid injuries.


Movement is shifting an item’s location from one place to another. It can be done through lifting, pulling, pushing, and lowering. The core manual handling task requires all the other tasks to be successful.

Altogether, the five manual handling tasks make warehousing complete and manageable where everything is put into place through either multiple manual handling tasks.

Matilda Odell
Matilda Odell works as the Content Creation Specialist at the brand TAWI, a brand by Piab Group, which enables smart lifting optimized for people and businesses.

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