Team handling involves two or more people who work as a team to lift, lower or carry loads. Team handling is best used when there is no option but to manually handle a load, a load is heavy, difficult to carry or manage because of size, or mechanical aids are not practical.
While it is better for a team rather than an individual to work in such situations, team handling is not without its hazards. There is a greater risk of injury if:
- members of the team are inexperienced in lifting
- workers don¿t exert force simultaneously
- individuals lose coordination
- there is an unexpected load increase or change in balance
- loads must be carried on a slope or stairs (placing most of the weight on workers at the lowest point of the load).
To meet their legal obligations, employees should:
- redesign tasks involving handling heavy or unstable loads
- assess the risks in a team handling situation and control possible risks
- provide the correct equipment and training.
- Mechanise tasks where possible. Do not use team handling as a permanent solution for handling heavy loads.
- Provide aids such as slings, straps, lifting bars/tongs, trolleys and hoists.
- Carefully plan the lift. Be conservative when estimating how much weight a team can handle. Make sure you have:
- an adequate number of people for the lift
- team members of similar size (if possible)
- one person responsible for planning and controlling the team handling
- enough space for manoeuvres
- responsibilities allocated to each team member.
- Be trained in effective team handling:
- Assess the manual task.
- Decide on the number of people needed and their positions.
- Clear the area of potential hazards.
- Discuss the lift with team members.
- Use a countdown to start the lift, and call all actions.
- Use lifting aids.
- Review the practical team lifting exercise afterwards.