Councils -

Manual Handling Training

2 Day Refuse & Recycling Manual Handling Instructor Course at the Docks Way Depot for Newport City Council in February 2017

In February 2017, our Manual Handling Expert Martin on attended Newport City Council’s Refuse and Recycling facility to deliver a 2 Day Manual Handling Instructor Course for 6 Waste Services Supervisors. The Docks Way Depot is involved with recycling of household goods including tyres, fridges and mattresses. It is also the Refuse and Recycling vehicle depot and storage site for new household bins. The 6 supervisors on the course all had a varying degree of experience within the collection sector. Our City & Guilds 2 Day Instructor Course is designed to provide attendees with the knowledge and practical skills to deliver a depot based, in house 2 Hour Manual Handling Practical Skills Course for their colleagues and to understand and complete the risk assessment approach to reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from manual handling activities (please see the bottom of this page for our Refuse & Recycling 2 Hour Manual Handling 100% Practical Skills Course outline and learning outcomes).

Even with our national experience with 64 Councils since 2010 (as of April 2017), before the course started Martin toured the site and was introduced to Newport City Council’s types of tasks that the employees were performing so that he could understand the types of risks and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that may affect the working staff and identify ways of reducing the risks. The site tour also gave Martin the opportunity to plan the tasks, loads and environments that the course practical would cover. 


Day 1 began with a brief introduction to the relevant law relating to Manual Handling (including the September 2016 updates to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations). The Docks Way Depot had many pushing and pulling tasks and so Martin covered the basic anatomy and biomechanics of the shoulder and spine, through an engaging and stimulating presentation, including the MSDs that can occur to the shoulder and back following natural and common (unsafe) manual handling practices. Like all of our nationwide training team, Martin kept this simple and easy to understand, avoiding any terms or medical jargon that could confuse the attendees.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) often build up over a number of years before resulting in pain and other symptoms such as stiffness, pins and needles and numbness. Martin explained the basic mechanism behind MSDs and due to his knowledge as a practising clinician, he was able to give real life examples of how these MSDs occurred in patients that he has clinically treated.  

After gaining a sufficient understanding of the basics of biomechanical strain and injury, attendees were taught the 5 practical principles of ‘BackSafe’ technique and then as a group, applied these principles to real life refuse collection video footage showing natural and hazardous pushing and pulling practices. Group discussion was encouraged by Martin as to which body areas were under strain and what types of MSDs could occur.

Out of the training room and into the depot. Following gentle warm up exercises under Martin’s guidance (Martin was formerly a qualified Personal Trainer), Martin demonstrated Semi-Squat, Full-Squat and Lunge lifting and lowering techniques. The attendees were then given the opportunity to practice as a group and in two groups of three. This allowed the attendees to provide each other with constructive feedback and learn from each other’s mistakes whilst Martin observed and provided guidance. 

Following a short break, attendees were then introduced to safer Pushing and Pulling (with wheelie and commercial bins), and Team Handling techniques and practices. Following practical demonstrations by Martin, they were closely observed and if needed, corrected and advised by Martin.

In image 2 (below right) the attendee (and future Manual Handling Instructor) is comparing natural practice of pushing from the upper body using bodyweight, after practising safer pushing technique driving the commercial bin forward using the legs, maintaining a more upright spinal posture shown at the starting position in image 1 (below left).

Image 1
Image 2

Following lunch, Martin discussed with the group teaching techniques and ways to interact with groups to maintain their training engagement, as well as how to deal with nervous or obstinate employees. A group discussion was had and attendees were encouraged to share past experiences. The remainder of Day 1 was spent practising the safer handling techniques and practices already learnt and time was spent looking at how best to teach these techniques whilst giving positive and constructive feedback to each other in order to create a real life teaching and learning environment.

Day 2. At the start of Day 2 the attendees were introduced to the HSE Manual Handling Risk Assessment Checklists and given an overview on how to complete the Checklists once a task had been identified as high risk, having used the MAC and the RAPP Tools. Additional videos were then viewed showing hazardous manual handling practices across many industry settings and these were analysed with the group. The attendees were tasked with completing a MAC tool assessment using one of these real life videos. In addition, they were also tasked with identifying the incorrect postures, the areas of the body that were at risk of MSD, the types of MSD and then ways of correcting the postures through technique or equipment use.

Into the depot again for specific refuse tasks. The majority of their work is done under a time constraint, with insecure and sometimes unstable loads. They also have responsibility for putting together all the new wheeled bins ready for delivery across Newport. They also have responsibility for supervising the recycling depot including helping the public unload items and moving various items around the depot. Time was spent practising correct manual handling using items used by the council employees using the correct ‘BackSafe’ techniques.


One example highlighted was lifting and lowering stacked new wheelie bins as shown in the photo to the right. These bins are stacked up to 8 bins tall and this is already deemed a 2 person task. However, the employees had not been taught how to perform the task in a safer way as they were lowering the bins to the floor forward bending (stooping) and twisting their bodies, putting excessive strain on their backs and knees, increasing the likelihood of causing MSDs through repetition.

Hazardous Lowering of Wheelie Bin

By simply applying ‘BackSafe’ technique to the task (correcting the postures) and introducing correct communication instructions of ''Ready, Brace, Lift'' and ''Ready, Lower'', the task was made safe and manageable for two employees. This can be seen in the 3 photos below.   

Following lunch, Martin held a short discussion with the group about how they should run a depot based 2 Hour Manual Handling Induction Course and Refresher Course, and provided a basic session plan outline for the attendees to follow as shown in the below PDF. He also spoke about what preparations to make prior to the course and how to screen for medical issues. This information was included in our comprehensive City & Guilds Instructor Assessor Course 68 page printed document.

Following this, the attendees were then individually practically assessed under examination conditions being requested to perform the techniques they had been taught over the 2 days. The attendees were then given a 1 hour written assessment to complete covering all aspects of the course.


Feedback was very positive, with all attendees saying they had enjoyed the 2 Day Course. As we are a City & Guilds accredited provider, attendee assessment is thorough and 1 of the 6 attendees did not pass our combined practical and written assessment. Recommendations for this attendee were made to Newport City Council. 5 attendees passed well and will go on to deliver quality, in house Manual Handling training.

Manual Handling Instructor Assessor Courses in 2016 for Newport City Council

We commissioned Train the Trainer programmes for our Street Scene Supervisors.  This has provided an excellent foundation for them to provide on-site bespoke training to their teams and to undertake manual handling risk assessments within their work areas.

Osteopathic Solutions liaised beforehand to ensure that the programmes met our needs, and provided post-training feedback that will enable these new trainers to be supported in their role.  I have since recommended this training to another local authority.​

Sue Evans, Manual Handling Adviser/ Health & Safety Business Partner

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Osteopathic Solutions Ltd

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