A ten-step guide for lifting manually

When merchandising and setting up displays in-store, you have a duty of care to both your team and customers to make sure that you are doing it safely. This ten-step guide explains the best practice for lifting manual loads.

1. Assess the load and plan the lift

To do this, assess what you are lifting, deciding where and how you are going to move it. Ideally, lifting should occur at mid-thigh to shoulder height. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting, or reaching. Ensure there is a clear path to your destination and a suitable place to put the load down.

2. Get close to the load

Position yourself as close to the centre of the load as possible. If the load is on a bench, pull it closer towards you. This will minimise strain on the back while lifting and enable you to use your most active arm muscles to hold the load.

3. Place feet apart for balance

Place your feet apart to make sure your body posture is evenly balanced. If the load is positioned below waist height, straddle it if possible before lifting, with one foot beside the load and one slightly behind it.

5. Lower your body and bend your knees

Lower your body, bending at your knees. Preferably, your knees should not bend beyond right angles. Bend your back no more than 20 degrees.

6. Lower your head

Lower your head to look at the load you are lifting.

7. Get a firm grip on the load

Grip the load securely and comfortably with both hands. Use your whole hand, rather than just your fingers. A firm grip should help pull the load closer, as well as support its weight. Pull the load as close to your body as possible. Keep your elbows tucked in and face the direction you intend to move (if possible).

8. Take a deep breath

A deep breath should be taken before the item is lifted. Keep your chin tucked in and tighten your stomach muscles.

9. Straighten your legs

Straighten your legs and lift slowly and smoothly, minimising the use of your lower back. Keep the load close to your body while lifting.

10. Lift and turn your feet

After lifting the load, turn your feet, then your body in the direction you wish to walk (if you weren’t able to do this earlier). Avoid twisting your body while carrying out the lift.

Tips for merchandising safely

  • Never leave scissors, pins or sticky tape or box cutters out on the shop floor. It is too easy for a child to pick up and injure themselves
  • Be careful how much product you have out to merchandise at once if it falls on the floor, it becomes a tripping hazard, and you are also devaluing the stock
  • Make sure that displays are not too high and also make sure that they are secure
  • When using busts or mannequins try to avoid placing them on high shelves as they can be a risk to staff and customers if not entirely safe
  • When merchandising a gondola or a waterfall display make sure that stock is merchandised to the front of the display to avoid a customer walking into it and causing an injury
  • When merchandising a pallet display make sure that product is merchandise to the edges to prevent a tripping hazard
  • When merchandising requires a large amount of physical movement of fixtures in-store try to do outside of store hours to avoid disruption to the customer service in-store and to keep your customers safe.


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ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au





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