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Redcar & Cleveland Council Case Study

3 Day Manual Handling Instructor Course

Team Pushing Commercial Bin

Redcar & Cleveland Council contracted Osteopathic Solutions in 2019 to provide a 3 Day Manual Handling Instructor (Train the Trainer) Assessor Course. This was booked by the Council´s Corporate Health & Safety Manager and Waste Services Support Assistant, with pre-course management by our Director & Business Owner Gareth Milner. Gareth has over 16 years (as of 2024) experience in managing and tailoring Manual Handling Programmes for Companies and Councils across the UK and over 13 years of experience in running the Programmes onsite himself.

Osteopathic Solutions is a results business. We provide engaging, professionally run, and biomechanically correct Programmes with the aim to drive down your Council´s manual handling lost time accidents. That´s why the word ´Solutions´ is in our business name. We are a solution to your manual handling problems. What manual handling problems do you have at your Council?

The 3 Day Course was run at the Fairway House Depot in Redcar with Gareth providing the instruction. Our 3 Day Course is a fixed cost of £2995 training up to 8 attendees. Redcar & Cleveland arranged 10 attendees from the following Council divisions:  


  • Refuse & Recycling

  • Street Cleansing

  • Grounds & Park Maintenance

  • Highways

Team lift of mower

Our cost effectiveness, bespoke delivery and national coverage is why over 100 Councils have contracted us since 2010. Redcar & Cleveland were the 88th Council. For our 3 Day Waste Services Manual Handling Instructor Assessor Course Outline and Learning Outcomes click the PDF at the top right of this page.

Day 1

As you will see from the numerous images of the practical content below, our 3 Day Course is inherently practical. As you know this is a practical subject. Like learning to drive a car, you only truly learn by the practical application. After the attendee and Instructor intros, the visually engaging PowerPoint was presented by Gareth which featured brief summaries of the relevant laws and basic musculoskeletal anatomy and biomechanics. What quickly brings our Courses to life related with manual handling is our real-life videos (caught by our team of Manual Handling Experts) of natural, but hazardous manual handling techniques and practices. Gareth presented these videos to the group on the wall mounted training room TV. Discussion within each video included:

  • The spinal movements performed 

  • What areas of the body are under mechanical strain

  • What musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) could happen

  • What the employer could do after assessment to reduce manual handling risks

  • What ‘BackSafe’ technique and practice is (if possible!)

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Before the afternoon practical Gareth presented safer manual handling techniques and practices through our Bespoke Manual Handling DVD for British Pepper & Spice. Therefore by the end of the morning, the attendees had been visually briefed on hazardous lifting, carrying and lowering practices; the (individual) musculoskeletal consequences of these practices and how to lift, carry, lower, push, pull and team handle inanimate loads with ´BackSafe´ practices. As the Course practical was outside in very cold winter temperatures across the 3 Days, with Gareth being mindful on attendee health and wellbeing (the practical does involve a lot of attendee observation of other attendee´s practical application), the lunchbreak was short allowing for a ´warming up´ tea break in the afternoon. The ´all practical´ afternoon session started with postural awareness in the staff tea room. Gareth enhanced the attendees´ postural awareness intensively covering the following spinal movements:

  • Forward Bending

  • Forward Bending & Twisting

  • Side Bending

  • Twisting

  • Backward Bending

As there would shortly be 2 hours of practical outside in the depot, Gareth demonstrated the core principles of ´Backsafe´ lifting, carrying and lowering with each attendee performing semi-squat lifting and lowering, and full-squat lifting and lowering. Our Courses are run intensively, with a focus to achieve our learning outcomes, but they are always run with a bit of fun and laughs along the way. Dry Courses devoid of this do not help learning. In the images to the left the attendees are having a crash course in Osteopathic palpation (basically feeling which muscles are strained and in spasm). This involved holding the load in hazardous carrying positions, and holding the load in front of the body held close, with the attendee behind the person holding the load feeling the difference in spinal muscle firmness. This always raises some banter and laughs, aiding the attendees to relax into the Course.

On to the engineering depot. As with all the practical in our Instructor Courses, our Manual Handling Experts demonstrate what is best practice as well as practices to avoid. Shown in the images below right. Gareth demonstrates squat lifting, carrying and lowering with a large fluid drum.

When the attendees provide their in house training programmes, through their training on our 3 Day Programme, they will encourage employees to individually assess the manual handling task, load and environment.

Instead of spoon feeding the attendees with the content all the time, throughout the Course Gareth questioned the group to aid their learning and manual handling thought processes. With the fluid drum, Gareth discusses the grip situation as the handle allows for only one hand, and questions the group what gripping the drum with one hand will do to the spinal position.

The group understood that it would enforce a spinal twist but this was unavoidable. Gareth questioned the group how the strain on the body can be reduced when lifting fluid drums. This time the group didn’t provide any correct answers therefore Gareth informed them that simply using the other hand/ arm on the next lift would be best manual handling practice (avoiding load strain on just one arm and allowing the spine to twist both ways – as Gareth is a qualified Osteopath he got across to the group that musculoskeletal disorders commonly occur when you repetitively use the body in the same movement pattern).

Stillage Manual Handling Tasks discussion

The group walked around the engineering depot with Gareth to observe the manual handling environments, aiding their risk assessment skills (as our 3 Day Programme also teaches them to perform manual handling risk assessments).

In the left image Gareth discusses with the group manual handling and stillages. As we pitch our practical with realism, Gareth mentions that perfect handling posture is not possible due to the sides of the stillage preventing squatting. The stillage was mainly used for throwing waste products into, but the Waste Services attendees did inform Gareth that sometimes staff had to lift loads from the stillage. Safer practice for the spine and knees is to simply move the feet, avoiding twisting and also lifting the load near to you i.e. not overstretching.

The attendees know their jobs, and therefore all the different types of manual handling tasks. Gareth encouraged them to flag up awkward tasks as much as possible. The task shown in the images to the right involved lifting a new door onto a Council vehicle. The door lifted during the practical was the broken door i.e. without the glass and therefore lighter, as the new door had already been placed onto the vehicle. Even though the grip on the door was at elbow height, to perform perfect spinal posture during the team lift, each attendee was informed to perform a mini squat, so that the leg muscles were the muscles lifting the load. To avoid a slight side bend of the spine during the lift, the door was shuffled away from the vehicle it was propped up against before it was 2 man lifted.

To coordinate the lift when team handling, what communication do you recommend for your employees to use?

Also what tasks do you have that are being performed by one person, when actually best manual handling practice would be a 2 man lift, carry and lower?

Whether teaching the workforce or teaching Manual Handling Instructors, learning outcomes with this subject are achieved better by comparing hazardous (unsafe) practices with best practice (safer) manual handling. Shown in the images to the left, Gareth demonstrates to the attendees (in the engineering workshop) a range of carrying positions. He encouraged the group to observe the body positions certain carrying positions enforced, as well as getting each attendee to recognize the biomechanical strain on their body with hazardous practices compared to the ´lightness´ of the load with best practice carrying. Within their future training sessions, attendees would be teaching carrying methods as part of Redcar & Cleveland's drive to cut manual handling lost time accidents.

Are you having problems with Manual Handling? Too many employee musculoskeletal disorders? Lost time accidents becoming more of a regular event? Call us on 0845 299 3513 to discuss your manual handling issues and see how we can help you take control of your manual handling lost time accidents.

Day 2

The Manual Handling Assessment Chart (MAC Tool) was covered for the 1st hour of Day 2. Using a factory floor video of a single person lift and carry, the Lifting Assessment and Carry Assessment parts of the MAC Tool were covered with some group learning via attendees pairing up. The deficiences of the MAC Tool were discussed, some of which were very clear to the group and didn´t need Gareth to prompt them. To help engage attendees we feel showing them other industry manual handling tasks supports their learning.

Classroom RAPP Tool.jpg

After the tea break, the Risk Assessment of Pushing & Pulling (RAPP) Tool was covered. Again with the group pairing up, 2 videos were shown; the 1st video pushing of a 600kg palletised load (on wheels) on a factory floor (shown in the image to the left), and the 2nd video pushing of crates along the ground (no wheels) in a bakery factory. The group felt that the RAPP Tool was a better HSE publication than the MAC Tool, however they did feel the load weights listed as medium risk should in fact have been listed as high risk. From our perspective at Osteopathic Solutions, we do feel the HSE have over complicated the manual handling risk assessment process. What do you think? Email us at the bottom of this page.

Day 2 practical started with pushing and pulling of commercial bins, wheelie bins and street barrows. With commercial bins (or eurobins) the following team handling was practiced:

  • Team pushing

  • Team pushing & pulling

  • Team pulling

The video below is best practice Team Pushing with a good attendee demonstration of initial body position, technique, communication and coordination.

Gareth recommended as much team pushing for best practice, but in the real world this is not always possible due to environmental factors, therefore team pushing and pulling was practiced as well as team pulling. Ideally load weight when pushing and pulling should be focused on the leg muscles, however (for example) when removing a full bin from a confined storage area, team pulling with both operatives facing each other may be enforced which results in hazardous spinal postures and body use. As ever in the Council Waste Services setting, Gareth´s realism on what practices can be performed were appreciated by the group, aiding their continued engagement in the Instructor (Train the Trainer) Course.

Next Wheelie Bins. The video to the right demonstrates Gareth expertly coaching one of the Waste Services attendees in BackSafe pulling and pushing of wheelie bins. Pushing and pulling 2 bins at a time is standard practice, which was practised after single bin handling.

With the group all observing eachother’s practical, there was a lot of standing still for each attendee and due to the very cold weather Gareth planned in quick warm up tea breaks so that the attendees would be able to focus during the practical. This was much appreciated by the group and represents the ‘down to earth’ approach Gareth and his UK team practice.

After lunch the practical resumed with single person pushing and pulling of a street barrow. From our experience of providing Manual Handling Training for over 100 Councils, handling of street barrows has been a rare Council task.


Once you have assessed the load you should position yourself by:

  • Facing the load with one foot in front of the other

(the front foot heel should be just in front of the rear foot toes)

  • Placing the feet your normal hip width apart

  • Bending both your knees (no more than a semi-

  • Placing your hands safely on the load, wrapping
    your fingers around its corners or gripping the handles

  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, level with the trunk

  • Keeping your spine upright, looking forward

To initiate movement of the load forward from a standing start drive your whole body forward with your leg muscles, keeping your elbows in, your spine upright and your head looking forward.


Facing the Load enables you to control the movement of the load and generally does not involve as much use of body weight (resulting in unsafe spinal posture) compared to pulling facing away from the load. Once you have assessed the load and it is not too heavy for pulling you should position yourself by:


  • Facing the load with one foot in front of the other (the front foot heel should be level with the rear foot toes)

  • Placing the feet your normal hip width apart

  • Bending both your knees (no more than a semi-

  • Placing your hands safely on the load, wrapping
    your fingers around its corners or gripping the handles

  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, level with the trunk

  • Keeping your spine upright, avoiding a significant backward bend

As there were attendees from Grounds Maintenance, Parks & Open Spaces we moved onto pushing of trailors. 


Single person pushing of the trailor was demonstrated by Gareth with each attendee then practising. As this was well into day 2 of the 3 Day Course, Gareth encouraged each attendee to talk through body position and body use for pushing, preparing them for their training delivery. 2 person, team pushing was then practised with the team leader communicating ´Ready, Steady (or Brace), Push´

As the darkness drew in, the last part of Day 2 was team lifting, carrying and lowering of house hold furniture relevant to the Street Cleansing attendees. Commonly during this part of the Course attendees can forget the practical principles of Squat Lifting Practice. Examples include bending the hips and knees too much; having the feet too close together; standing too far away from the load etc. As ever during the practical Gareth provided the necessary corrections of body position and body use, supporting the attendees' learning. Aiding the attendees' manual handling lateral thinking, Gareth allowed the attendees to think between themselves on best practice grip. Team carrying methods were also practised, with Gareth asking attendees questions about carrying positions

regarding which carrying positions are awkward for the spine; the speed at which the load can be carried from A to B; which was safest in hazardous environments. Again stimulating the attendees to think about the subject, further aiding their learning.

Team Carry Sofa - front view.jpg
Team Carry Sofa.jpg
Team Lift Sofa - Team Lift completed.jpg

Day 3

As per our 3 Day Course Outline Day 3 started in the classroom with brief coverage of the HSE´s Manual Handling Checklists from the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. The Health & Safety Officer made Gareth aware that the Council had their own risk assessment form. Gareth checked this document and informed the group this was essentially the same as the Checklists, however the Council´s form only covered lifting and carrying tasks.


A busy morning of practical soon started. Firstly it was team handling of mowers.

As Gareth expected, the Grounds attendees informed him that staff commonly did not lower the rear or the side of the vehicle. This would enforce lifting a very heavy, awkward load above shoulder level and away from the body with an enforce spinal twist. A great recipe for shoulder, neck and lower back musculoskeletal disorders. Best practice team lifting of the mower (as shown in the video above) was practiced by each attendee as well as team lowering of the mower to the ground. As the group had started team lifting at the end of Day 2, Gareth encouraged them to instruct just like they would be doing when they training the Redcar & Cleveland workforce.

Back to Street Cleansing tasks we went. Single person, and team handling of small fridges. Lifting such a bulky load does strain the spine (muscles, ligaments, discs and joints) if it is regularly practised. Obviously, the small fridge can be lifted and carried on your own (if you are physically capable), but ideally 2 person lifting is best practice. Again realism is our pitch and carrying the fridge at the side of the body in a team of 2 was practised; and now as the attendees were on Day 3 of our intensive Instructor (Train the Trainer) programme they understood (and physically felt) the postural effects of this carrying position which in the real world commonly has to be performed due to environment hazards, time constraints and workload demands.

As throwing of loads is a task outside of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, many ‘Jack of all Trades’ Health & Safety Training Providers would likely not cover this important Council Waste Services task. In the video to the right, our Manual Handling Expert Gareth demonstrates natural practices he has observed over a decade of providing training. He demonstrates a task that looks simple, but is commonly performed in a hazardous way for the musculoskeletal system. Gareth demonstrates throwing technique of Refuse Bags that will damage the spine if repetitively practised, and then demonstrates BackSafe practice, with attendees then performing the same to compare, preparing them for their in house Manual Handling Training delivery.

The final push through this mammoth practical coverage in 3 Days continued up to lunchtime. Strimmers were discussed within the group about their lifting, body coupling, use and lowering.


Highways tasks followed including lifting, carrying and lowering of road signs (large and small), traffic cones and even shoveling practice with a spade, shown in the photos below right.


We are always learning in life. No matter what the subject is. The Highways attendees demonstrated to Gareth the use of a ‘curb lifter’, which he had never personally seen before. A great bit of kit, that made the heavy curb stone fairly easily to lift and carry.

After the much needed warm up of lunchtime, Gareth covered delivering in house training in a 2 Hour Course. Our Course Booklet spoon feeds attendees into the Course’s structure and delivery. To receive our comprehensive Booklet free of charge, email us from the bottom of this page.

Following this was the Practical Assessment for each attendee. Attendees can commonly be nervous about this, but it is an essential part of the Course to quality assure that these attendees have learnt enough from our intensive programme, in order to deliver safe, best practice training to their workforce. After the 20 minute Practical Assessment for each attendee came the closed book Written Assessment.

Supported by Gareth’s high quality, ‘no stones unturned’ tutelage, all attendees passed the assessment and were qualified (and certificated) as Redcar & Cleveland Council’s Manual Handling Instructors. A remarkable job done! See them in 3 years for their 1 Day CPD/ Refresher Course.

Pushing Trailor - 2 Person.jpg
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Council Services Manual Handling Training Video USB Box Set
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