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Pukka Pies Case Study

Bespoke Manual Handling Training Programme

Download our Bespoke 'Best Practice' Manual Handling Practical Skills Course Outline by clicking the PDF to the right

Following the onsite Manual Handling Risk & Ergonomic Assessment Consultancy we conducted in 2013 with the (post consultancy) Manual Handling Risk Reduction written report, Pukka Pies' Health & Safety Manager commenced a factory wide Bespoke Manual Handling Training Programme with Osteopathic Solutions for the production workforce in 2015, so that Pukka Pies maintained its compliance under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

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Pre-programme contact from Osteopathic Solutions' Director Gareth Milner with the Pukka Pies' Health & Safety Manager, ensured the employees would get the most from the job specific training and significant reductions in manual handling related injuries would result. Due to the lack of space on the factory floor it was decided that a 'safe training zone' would be created away from the factory floor with a variety of factory floor loads and recreated tasks. This enabled the training not to get in the way of production demands and for our Manual Handling Expert Gareth Milner to get the message across in a quiet, non-distracted learning environment.

Following the short briefing on basic anatomy of the back and biomechanics of injury in the classroom, postural awareness was performed by each attendee involving spinal forward and backward bending, side bending and twisting. Forward bending and twisting was then performed by each attendee, so that they could feel the 'pull' on the lower back soft tissues (muscles, tendons & ligaments). These movements were related to hazardous manual handling techniques and practices that are naturally performed. To warm up the leg muscles for the practical, 5 semi-squats and 5 full-squats were then performed by each attendee making sure their feet were in a squat lifting position of 

slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Semi-squat lifting, carrying and semi-squat lowering were then demonstrated by Gareth as shown in our Bespoke Manual Handling Training DVD for Pukka Pies (above left).

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Carrying of the flour bag was performed comparing best practice and hazardous practice. Natural but hazardous practice involves carrying the load on the shoulder or under one arm. In the photo to the right, Gareth is pointing out that carrying the load on the left shoulder is causing increased contraction of the right sided back muscles making it more likely for a manual handling accident and resulting back spasm, a RIDDOR report and a manual handling lost time accident. As Gareth has a long-term background of treating spinal injuries in clinic as an Osteopath, he informed the group how long these painful back spasms can go on for, even with spinal manipulative therapy.

The job specific Manual Handling Training Programme moved on to full-squat lifting and lowering as shown in the video to the left. To view our squat lifting and lowering video with commentary featuring both semi-squat and full-squat lifting and lowering technique please view our Manual Handling Techniques Explained page on this link. 


This page is useful for CPD/ Refresher training if you have previously attended a Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Assessor Course as it also features videos on lunge lifting and lowering, a practice that is commonly not taught in other generic providers manual handling instructor courses.

One of the attendees was suffering from 'wear and tear' in the knees and associated pain. Of course, full-squat technique is the technique of choice for handling loads below knee level, but with knee injuries performing this would over strain already damaged knees. Lifting with a semi-squat position is recommended by our Manual Handling Expert Gareth with the load close between the wide stance. As long as this position is performed, and the legs are used to lift the load, then the strain on the lower back will be moderate. When knees have good function, the semi-squat position to lift loads below knee level is incorrect and will place too much load weight on the lower back.


Encouraging employees to position cages (when lifting trays out of and lowering trays into) in a way that allowed movement both ways over a shift was recommended. Forward bending and twisting to the same side consistently with this task will lead to spinal ligament instability as the same ligaments are overstretched, leading to chronic lower back pain.

During the factory floor walkaround before the training commenced, Gareth noted that it was common practice for employees to pull cages with the posture shown to the left, especially with 2 cages at a time standing at the side of the cages.

As with forward bending and twisting to lift and lower loads, pulling with a spinal forward bend and twist using bodyweight is an extremely hazardous but natural manual handling practice. Gareth encouraged the group to perform more pushing of the cages with each attendee performing best practice 'BackSafe' pushing with Gareth providing 1-2-1 coaching as shown to the right.

Continuing with the theme of comparing hazardous practice with best practice manual handling techniques, pulling of palletised loads with a pallet truck was performed by each attendee with the hazardous techniques shown below. If attendees were suffering from injuries they did not perform these natural practices.

Pushing of cage during manual handling training
For a worked example of the Health & Safety Executive's RAPP Tool (Risk Assessment of Pushing & Pulling)
please click on our Manual Handling Operations Regulations page on this link.

To then performing safe practice with one foot in front of the other, feet hip width apart, elbows level with the trunk and then a deep semi-squat through the hips and knees, focusing the weight of the load on the front of the thigh muscles aiming to avoid a significant backward spinal bend as practised below with Gareth's 1-2-1 coaching. After getting the load moving (facing the load), it was recommended that the continuation of the pulling was performed with one arm but regularly alternated with the other arm on other occasions.


The awkward practice of lifting and handling CHEP pallets was then observed. In all factory environments this is commonly a single person operation. Osteopathic Solutions' Manual Handling Experts always encourage as much team lifting, carrying and lowering of pallets as is possible, as pallets are simply bulky and heavy. During single handler lifting and lowering of pallets, the load will always for a short period of time be away from the body causing spinal strain and a potential manual handling accident. The Bespoke Manual Handling Training DVD we produced for Pukka Pies features best practice team manual handling of pallets. To watch our Bespoke DVD for their Distribution employees click this link.

Lifting of CHEP pallets
Squat lifting of 12 kilogram butter cube

As the bespoke manual handling programme was 3 hours in length, after the core practical principles were covered there was 20 minutes to relate these principles to a variety of factory floor tasks. As shown in the left photo, Gareth demonstrated a semi-squat lift with a 12kg cube of butter followed by each attendee. In the busy environment of food production this load was commonly lifted on one leg, with one arm, in a forward bend, side bend and twist. Osteopathic Solutions' Manual Handing Expert Trainers are realistic in the effects of training and recognise that this specific practice will not be stopped by some people, but our aims are to change manual handling habits and reduce hazardous practices following training, helping Pukka Pies achieve zero manual handling accidents.

Following the training, Gareth discussed some awkward tasks with Pukka Pies' Health & Safety Manager including the lowering of the gravy tray as shown in the photo to the right. 

As much job rotation as possible was recommended as some tasks at conveyors appeared to be low risk but involved repetitive same side spinal twisting which over time can cause spinal degeneration. Employees at the pastry making station were encouraged to perform right rotation movements before and after a shift as throughout the day they were repetitively twisted to the left. Check out our worked example of the HSE's ART Tool (Assessment of Repetitive Tasks) on our Manual Handling Operations Regulations page on this link.

Awkward manual handling task

Osteopathic Solutions' Bespoke Manual Handling Training Programme was conducted for Pukka Pies throughout 2015-2017 maintaining Pukka Pies compliance under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. For more information on our Bespoke Manual Handling Training Programmes click on the Read more button below.

Our business relationship with Pukka Pies has been one of our favourites since 2010 when Gareth Milner founded Osteopathic Solutions. Check out their great pies (especially the Chicken Balti) on 

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The Bespoke DVD was a great success. The overall opinion was that as the Bespoke DVD covered specific tasks within our own production facility, and featured our people doing the tasks, it was therefore more relevant by association. I think the DVD will become a very useful training tool for its intended induction purpose and also as a refresher tool.

Stephen Ward

New Products & Process Development Officer, Pukka Pies

Osteopathic Solutions
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