DHL Supply Chain Case Study

2 Day Manual Handling (Train the Trainer) Instructor Course

Download our 2 Day Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Assessor Course Outline by clicking the PDF to the right

Our Manchester based Manual Handling Expert Mark Dulson delivered our 2 Day Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Course at DHL Supply Chain’s distribution centre in Liverpool. Since 2010 across the UK, we have provided our 2 Day programmes for DHL’s Supply Chain, Aviation, Express, Tradeteam and NHS Supply Chain divisions. Five members of staff attended the course, all of whom had trainer experience; three as Driver Trainers, a Manual Handling Equipment Trainer, and a Health & Safety Rep/ Trainer. The objectives of our 2 Day Course (Outline and Learning Outcomes PDF above) are to give the attendees the ability to:

  • Educate the workforce (in a jargon free way) how spinal, shoulder & knee 

musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) develop with unsafe manual handling practices

  • Conduct Manual Handling Risk Assessments

  • Teach the workforce safer lifting, carrying, lowering, pushing and pulling practical

techniques in structured and in the working environment 2 or 1 Hour Courses 

  • Reduce site manual handling lost time accidents

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The first 3 hours on Day 1 were classroom based. Covering a large part of the course theory early on sets up the attendees for the course practical, in preparation for the Practical and Written assessments at the end of Day 2. Starting with the relevant laws in Manual Handling, basic anatomy and the functions of muscles, ligaments, discs, and joints were then covered. For the attendees, simple understanding of what these structures are made up of, and the musculoskeletal roles they play are vital for the next topic of the course, which was musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of the spine, shoulder, hip, and knee. Like all of our nationwide training team, Mark kept this simple and easy to understand, avoiding any terms or medical jargon that could confuse the attendees. Supported by our CPD Certification Service accreditation our courses achieve the designated learning outcomes through this teaching simplicity.

Video footage (from different industries) of hazardous lifting, carrying and lowering techniques and practices was presented to the attendees. This was particularly useful at DHL, as lifting below knee height is a practice regularly carried out by order pickers.

In the video to the left the warehouse operative performs a forward bend to lift boxes from the pallet (at 10 seconds), with no squatting through the legs. If practised 100s of times each week, over a number of years, this is a recipe for chronic lower back pain, manual handling lost time accidents and potential successful injury claims against his employer.

It was during the presentation of these hazardous practice videos that the 5 keys principles of BackSafe manual handling technique (which can be applied to all manual handling loads and tasks) were introduced to the attendees. 


After completing how musculoskeletal disorders occur, and what we should be looking to avoid and why, the class was then moved on to the warehouse floor to begin tuition of BackSafe techniques and practices. This began with postural awareness exercises including spinal forward bending, backward bending, side bending and twisting. The basics of squat (lifting and lowering) technique with particular emphasis on positioning of the feet, was then performed with the class. This exercise also acted as a warm up for the group practical.

This practical also allowed the attendees to feel the difference between forward bending to lift loads (placing the muscles in the lower back in a stretch while they contract to lift), compared with BackSafe Squat technique focusing the load weight through the large, powerful and more resilient leg muscles.

Watch more videos from this Course, our Bespoke Manual Handling DVDs & much more on our YouTube page

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For order pickers at this site, 70-80% (dependant on the load size, and height of the member of staff) of lifting and lowering is carried out above knee height, for which the preferred BackSafe technique is the semi-squat. For anyone of average height there isn’t any lifting or lowering of loads above chest height. Mark explained how picking the closest columns of boxes first allows the operative to stay closer to the load. Whereas removing the rows of boxes results in reaching to the back of the pallet each time a row is completed. Completing rows will result in twisting of the spine, hips, knees and ankles typically in the direction of the dominant side of the body, every time a box is further than elbow distance from the body when the arm is outstretched. The necessary understanding of cumulative strain, vital to be an effective trainer, was highlighted when discussing this hazardous practice.

The left photo shows an attendee attempting a semi-squat lift of a box from a pallet, with Mark recording footage. Concerning lifting loads from knee height or below the Full-Squat 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. The biomechanics of injury caused by allowing the hips to go below the level of the knees when lifting and lowering was explained, including quadriceps muscle and tendon strain and knee cap (patella) cartilage wear and tear (osteoarthritis). Extra emphasis was placed on NOT allowing the feet to be turned out; and NOT placing one foot in front of the other on the pallet, as these are common during reaching towards the back of the pallet as in hazardous technique when order picking.

Following Mark’s demonstrations of squat lifting and lowering, the attendees performed all techniques without any prompts or direction (from Mark) for their first 2 attempts with the same load. This allowed for the other attendees to observe practical errors demonstrated by their colleagues, helping them for when they provide training with the workforce.


Video footage was taken of all attendees’ first 2 attempts, which was played in the classroom on Day 2 to provide attendees awareness of their errors in technique, and the areas they needed to improve to achieve competency.

Mainly covered on the morning of Day 2 (but inherent throughout the practical over the 2 Days also), the Risk Assessment aspect of the Instructor Assessor Course covered load weight guidance, categories of risk assessment, the Manual Handling Checklists (from the Manual Handling Operations Regulations), musculoskeletal disorder risk reduction solutions and manual handling equipment (MHE). The aim of this aspect of the Course is for the attendees to able to spot tasks, loads and environments that increase the likelihood of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and the measures that can be put in place to reduce risks of MSDs. An example that Mark used was the advantage of having 2 empty pallets in all the picking slots, when the full pallet was lowered onto the empty pallet the lowest box is 3 pallets high, which for most people is knee height.

Regarding pushing and pulling tasks, the typical pushing and pulling of cages and pallet truck loads were covered. As the attendees will also be teaching the lorry drivers, Mark and the attendees also covered drawing and opening of curtains on the side of trailers. The task demonstrated by the attendees on the double decking trailers raised awareness (within the group) of the high level of risk for MSDs. Backward bending through the lower back and the neck, with the arms coming away from the body, yanking at the curtain when it became stuck, and moving away from the side of the trailer all represented the unavoidable awkwardness of the task. With reference to the risks of MSDs in Logistics and Distribution and their management, please read our 2018 blog titled ‘‘Reducing MSDs in Logistics & Distribution‘’ on this link.

Mark explained (using simple anatomical images) that the small and weak rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder (that are very susceptible to strain and injury) become involved when the arms come away from the body. Backward bending the neck results in increased strain within the small muscles at the back of the neck, and aggravates the joints in the neck. Similar structures in the lower back are strained by leaning the torso backwards. These structures that are already on a traction strain through this awkward posture are strained to a much greater degree by the yanking of the curtain, which causes a whiplash motion through the spinal structures. More BackSafe technique involved bending through the hips and knees, isolating the stronger, more resilient leg muscles to perform more of the force for the task. Mark also explained by leaning away from the trailer (which normally occurs when the curtain got stuck) reduces the strength of the force created by the movement, therefore the muscles that are already on a traction strain have to work harder than they do when staying close to the trailer further increasing the likelihood of injury.

During the last 2.5 hours of the Course on Day 2, the Practical and Written Assessment was conducted. Within 10 days from the Course we had the pleasure of informing the Health & Safety Manager Carl McLoughlin that all 5 attendees had passed the Course, all with Grade As, thanks to their excellent participation and Mark's expert tuition.


We wish the group all the success in their in house training and risk assessment provision for DHL Liverpool. This is supported by our indefinite, free of charge post course support.

Since 2010, Osteopathic Solutions has provided Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Programmes and Manual Handling & Ergonomic Risk Assessments for DHL Supply Chain, DHL Aviation, Tradeteam, NHS Supply Chain and DHL Express across the UK. Below is a brief selection of Course testimonials.

Many thanks to Alan Reed for an engaging, informative and practical

2 Day Instructor Course.


Michael Passey, Training Manager at DHL, Virgin Trains Contract

  • Linkedin Michael Passey

The 2 Day Instructor Assessor Course was excellent.


          Teresa Keene, Regional SHE Manager

& Course Attendee at DHL Supply Chain Banbury

  • Linkedin Teresa Keene

Attendee feedback:


What did you find most helpful & why?


C Marshall

' The practical side to the course, because you could see clearly the positive effects of correct handling '


R Brassington

' Learning in more depth about spinal and muscular injuries and how they happen '


S Goodman

' The practical demo was very good '

Osteopathic Solutions Ltd

T:  0845 299 3513


Company Registration Number: 07743200

VAT Registration Number: 139 388572

CPD Certification Service Member Number: 12602

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