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Arla Case Study

2 Day Manual Handling (Train the Trainer) Instructor Course


The Health & Safety Manager and Training Coordinator at Arla’s Aylesbury Dairy contracted Osteopathic Solutions in 2016 to run our Accredited 2 Day Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Assessor Programme onsite covering job specific Manual Handling tasks for the Despatch Department across the distribution and warehouse floor. Since 2013 we have qualified Manual Handling Instructors for the Arla sites at Settle, Aylesbury, Lockerbie, Leeds and Ashby-de-la-Zouch. In 2023 we provided a Manual Handling Risk & Ergonomic Assessment & MSD Risk Reduction Report for the Arla Aylesbury Dairy, followed in 2024 with a company wide Risk Assessment for their cage handling operations.

In 2016 at the Aylesbury Dairy, our Manual Handling Expert & Occupational Osteopath Martin delivered the Course with 5 attendees from different working backgrounds and nationalities, all working in the cold environment of despatch. Following successful completion of the Course and passing of the combined Practical and Written Assessment, these attendees would be providing in house Workforce Manual Handling Practical Skills Training and some whom would be performing Manual Handling Risk and Ergonomic Assessments, maintaining the site's and Arla's compliance under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, reducing risks of Manual Handling Lost Time Accidents and Injury at Work Claims.

On the morning of Day 1 before the Course started, our Manual Handling Expert Martin toured the site to observe the job specific tasks that the employees were performing so that he could understand the types of manual handing risks and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that may affect the working staff and identify ways of reducing the risks of manual handing related injuries. The site tour also gave Martin the opportunity to plan the tasks, loads and environments that the Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Course practical would cover. The below footage (filmed across Arla sites) shows the manual handling difficulties that warehouse roles have including awkward and repetitive handling featuring large vertical movement, handling boxes below knee level up to above head height. As we are a training provider of realism, even with effective training of Instructors and their implementation of an effective, structured in house training programme, in this environment removing all hazardous (for the human body) manual handling practices is impossible, however reducing manual handling lost accident is very possible, and should be achieved.


Day 1 began with an introduction to the relevant law relating to Manual Handling followed by an engaging and stimulating presentation on the basic anatomy and biomechanics of the spine including the muscles, ligaments, joints and spinal discs. As the Aylesbury Dairy had many pushing and pulling tasks, Martin briefly covered the basic anatomy and biomechanics of the shoulder, including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can occur to the shoulder following natural i.e. hazardous manual handling techniques and practices. Like all of our nationwide Manual Handling Risk Management Experts, Martin kept this simple and easy to understand, avoiding any terms or medical jargon.


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 musculoskeletal disorders and due to his knowledge as a practising clinician, he was able to give real life examples of how these injuries occurred in patients that he has clinically diagnosed and treated. 

After gaining a good understanding of biomechanical strain and injury, attendees were taught our 5 Best Practice Principles of BackSafe Manual Handling Technique and then applied these principles to real life, food factory and warehouse floor video footage showing common, hazardous lifting, carrying, lowering, pushing and pulling practices. Group discussion was encouraged by Martin as to which body areas were under strain and what types of musculoskeletal injuries may follow.

After a short break, attendees were then introduced to the Manual Handling Assessment Charts or more commonly called the MAC Tool (please click on the image to the right of this paragraph for the HSE's website page on the MAC Tool). This tool enables employees to risk assess a large number of lifting, carrying and team handling tasks and then quickly identify the tasks that are placing people most at risk. It is an excellent way for employees new to risk assessment to learn the process of assessing tasks. Using a real life lifting and carrying factory video, the attendees paired up and assessed the task to determine the level of risk for the lifting and then the carrying task. Martin then brought the group together and went through the assessment with discussion. To view our worked example of the MAC Tool please view our Manual Handling Operations Regulations page.

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Full squat lifting from pallet
Arla Foods

Attendees were then taken onto the warehouse floor and were put through a basic warm up involving basic spinal movements. As Martin was a Personal Trainer before his Osteopathy Degree, Martin performed squat warm ups with the group to mobilise the hips, knees and ankles readying the attendees' legs for the squat lifting and lowering practical. Martin then demonstrated safer lifting and lowering techniques using the Semi-Squat and Full-Squat techniques. Different loads across the warehouse were used to demonstrate and practise safer technique. During this session, attendees were also introduced to aspects of teaching and training and had opportunities to practise these techniques with each other, supervised by Martin's tuition. As our Instructors are Registered Osteopaths with expert knowledge of human biomechanics, our training team teach best practice and most biomechanically sound techniques.

Concerning lifting loads from at knee, or below knee height, the Full-Squat technique is the technique of choice. We consistently come across Manual Handling Training providers that teach flawed manual handling techniques as their trainers do not have an expert knowledge of human biomechanics (but falsely claim they have). For lifting loads from at knee, or below knee height these providers commonly teach an insufficient squat through the hips and knees which places the lower back in a near horizontal position with the load mainly being lifted by the lower back muscles (like in the gym based lift the 'Deadlift'). The load is too far from the base of support causing leverage. Additional biomechanically flawed practice of having the feet positioned with one foot in front of the other is commonly incorrectly taught. This causes a mechanical pelvic and lower back torsion, irritating the spinal discs and joints. With the feet only hip width apart, this causes the load to be too far from the base of support. Are your employees being taught this flawed practice? For more information on Squat Lifting and Lowering please view our Manual Handling Techniques Explained page.

Read our Blog '' Deadlifting. A Best Practice or Hazardous Lifting Exercise? '' & many more on this link

Attendees were also introduced to safer team lifting, carrying and lowering practice. They were given the opportunity to discuss the likely manual handling related injuries that could occur through poor technique and also the points to consider when deciding to attempt a team lift. Martin then demonstrated 'BackSafe' team handling technique and practice, and the best practice commands that should be given during the lifting and lowering phases. The attendees were then given the opportunity to practise safer team lifting and lowering technique and at the same time develop their teaching skills with each other. Although pallets are commonly handled by 1 person in factory and warehouse environments, a CHEP pallet was used as shown below. In the photo below the attendee to the right is performing a 'BackSafe' full-squat position. The attendee to the left has his feet too close together enforcing the arms to be positioned outside of the knees. This causes a more forward bent spinal posture placing strain on the lower back. The attendee is also looking at his colleague which causes a neck backward bend and strain to the lower neck joints. Martin gave constructive feedback to all attendees during the practical to correct practical errors like this, preparing them for the Practical Assessment as well as their delivery of Arla's bespoke, in house manual handling training programme (following Osteopathic Solutions' Instructor Programme). At the end of the session a brief recap was given of the day with attendee questions welcomed.

Team 2 Person Lift of CHEP Pallet

As Osteopathic Solutions' Bespoke Programme trains both Manual Handling Instructors (Trainers) and Risk Assessors (please consult the Course outline PDF at the top of this page for the learning outcomes, or view our Onsite Instructor Course page. Day 2 began in the classroom with Manual Handling Risk Assessment, covering the HSE Assessment Checklists and practical solutions to reduce manual handling operations and risks. For worked examples of the HSE's Manual Handling Checklists please view our Manual Handing Operations Regulations page. After a recap in the classroom with real life videos in factories and warehouses of natural, hazardous pushing and pulling techniques/ practices, the 2 Day Course quickly moved back to the factory and warehouse floors for practical with the heavy TET trolleys laden with milk.

Whether our UK team of Manual Handling Experts are training Instructors or the workforce directly our training provision is realistic. As with all food factories across the UK, there were awkward, heavy and repetitive tasks including the handling of TETs (Arla's name for warehouse cages). There is simply no way of removing musculoskeletal strain with this task unless it is fully automated. In an ideal world the TETs would be attached together and team pushed and pulled however this is not realistic in the busy distribution environment. The video clip to the left shows the natural way employees are handling these TETs with the use of bodyweight and the spinal and upper body muscles to pull the TETs from a standing start and continuing the pull to the lorry.

A discussion was had about the speed that was required to load the trucks and the varying loads that were needed whether it be one drop or multiple drops and the various risks involved. Martin demonstrated safer handling of the TETs from a standing start to which the group were then given the opportunity to practice and implement the teaching skills that had been taught, preparing them to change manual handling habits within the site's workforce. Following lunch on Day 2, more aspects of teaching were covered and the group were talked through the stucture and delivery of the 2 Hour Manual Handling Practical Skills Course; how to keep their in house Manual Handling Course engaging and the various things that had to be included for example like handling attendee questions about awkward tasks. The differences in workforce induction training and refresher training were also covered.

We take assessing competency in our Courses very seriously and following a short break, attendees were formally assessed on their manual handling technique and demonstration skills with a 20 minute Practical Assessment; and a 45 minute Written Assessment to test their knowledge of basic anatomy and biomechanics, common hazardous manual handling techniques and risk assessment. All attendees passed the course (average mark was 117/177 - Grade B) and are were ready to deliver high quality, practical, on the factory and warehouse floor Manual Handling Courses passing on safer principles to the Arla workforce, with the ultimate aim of a reduction in the site's manual handling related injuries, lost time accidents and injury claims.

Osteopathic Solutions
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