Sutton Valence School

Sutton Valence School Case Study

Bespoke Manual Handling Training Programme

Sutton Valence School

Ensuring Sutton Valence School's compliance with Health & Safety Legislation including the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, Sutton Valence's Estates Bursar contracted Osteopathic Solutions to provide 2 x 3 Hour Manual Handling Practical Skills Courses in April 2014 for their domestic, estates, building and grounds maintenance staff. Osteopathic Solutions Manual Handling Expert & Business Director Gareth Milner provided this training featured on this Case Study. 


Please view a testimonial from Sutton Valence's Estates Bursar below.

The 3 Hour Manual Handling Practical Skills Courses started with a short visually engaging powerpoint featuring images of basic spinal anatomy and spinal disc injuries. As a qualified Osteopath, Gareth informed the attendees of the symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and their effects on quality of life. This always immediately engages attendees as there are always some who are suffering from current manual handling related injuries. Real life videos of lifting, carrying, lowering, pushing and pulling loads with natural, hazardous postures and practices were shown to inform the attendees how manual handling accidents are caused. The client tailored manual handing practical kicked off in the music department hall with the best practice principles of semi-squat lifting and lowering and full-squat lifting and lowering.

Images 1 & 2 of the gallery (above right) show Gareth demonstrating a semi-squat lift and a full-squat lift with a small but heavy speaker box. The semi-squat is the technique of choice for this load due to the handle on its top aspect. Each attendee then performed the squat lifting practical, with 1-2-1 technique support by Gareth. For those with knee injuries, the semi-squat lift was only performed. 

Please watch our short Explainer Video on best practice lifting & lowering by clicking this YouTube icon

Want to know how to safely lift & lower loads? 
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Our Bespoke Manual Handling Programme for Sutton Valence School continued with the group team lifting, carrying and lowering a wooden bench. This is a load that is commonly lifted, carried and lowered by a single person. Due to the width and weight of the load this enforces a forward bend of the spine when lifting and hazardous use of the lower back muscles, increasing the risk of a manual handling related injury. The estates team were encouraged to perform more best practice team handling of loads, although Gareth was realistic and recognised that this was not always possible. 

To aid manual handling behavioural change, Osteopathic Solutions team commonly request that hazardous manual handling practice is performed immediately before or after BackSafe manual handling technique and practice (we avoid attendees who are suffering from musculoskeletal disorders performing this hazardous/BackSafe comparison and always keep the loads of moderate weight. Attendees can immediately feel that there is less strain on their body with best practice manual handling. Our unique teaching approach aids attendee learning, supporting significant reductions in manual handling lost time accidents in all industry environments. To the left, natural manual handling practice for team carrying with both men walking forwards (which causes a hazardous side bend and twist of the back) is compared with one person walking forwards and one person walking backwards, a more BackSafe practice.

As our onsite Manual Handling Courses are realistic and job specific, the grand piano was then used for the pushing practical. At Sutton Valence School it is commonly pushed by a single person which enforces a forward bend of the spine and use of bodyweight (as shown in the image to the right), which increases the risks of workforce neck and shoulder manual handling related injury. There is also strain on the right calf muscle and achilles tendon, the left knee and significant compressive mechanical strain on the neck (cervical) discs. Are you a Manual Handling Instructor and Risk Assessor? If so, then view our RAPP tool worked examples on our our Manual Handling Operations Regulations page.

Want our Course Booklet free of charge? Email us at the bottom of this page with the email subject

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To continue the theme of team manual handling, 2 person pushing was practised with the grand piano. Using a team leader saying 'Ready, Steady, Push', this aided safer posture whilst pushing. This is shown in the video clip to the left which demonstrates Osteopathic Solutions' specialist knowledge of body position and technique application. Even with 2 people, a forward bend of the spine was not possible to avoid with such a heavy load on small wheels. The Estates Bursar was informed after the training that the task should always be a 2 person push.

Have you assessed ALL your School employees' manual handling tasks? If not, and you are short of time please view our Manual Handling Risk & Ergonomic Assessment Consultancy.

The task specific practical moved to the building maintenance department where tasks with environmental space constraints, and tasks involving lifting/ lowering loads at chest and head height were discussed. Gareth then demonstated the lunge lift with a fire extinguisher, with the attendees then individually practising this. The lunge to lift and lower loads is an alternative to the squat technique that is commonly preferred by people who have a current or previous spinal disc injury. It should only be practised with small, moderate weight loads under 10kg. Click on our Manual Handling Techniques Explained page to watch Gareth demonstrate this alternative lifting and lowering technique in a food factory.

Sutton Valence School

To complete the job specific practical, pulling of loads was covered with a variety of loads including a wheelie bin, a pallet truck and a large barbecue on wheels. As their bodies were conditioned to heavy loads, the grounds maintenance team* were the only attendees to practice pulling the heavy palletised load. To reduce the backward bend and subsequent strain on the spine as shown in the images below, each grounds team attendee is positioning one foot in front of the other with a bend through the hips and knees keeping the elbows bent and level with the trunk, driving powerfully through the thigh muscles to move the load. This is essential practice on what was a very heavy manual handling task. An electric pallet mover was recommended to the Estates Bursar to reduce the risk of manual handling accidents.

Do you work for a Council Grounds Maintenance Team? If so, read our Case Study of our Bespoke Manual Handling Training Programme for Essex County Council's Parks & Open Spaces employees on this link.

After each 3 Hour 'Best Practice' Manual Handling Practical Skills Course (for the Course Outline and Learning Outcomes click on this link) had finished, some of the attendees asked Gareth for some stretching exercises to relieve neck stiffness and pain. In the image shown below, Gareth (who qualified in Osteopathy from the nearby European School of Osteopathy in Maidstone, Kent in 2014) is demonstrating a left side bend stretch of the neck targeting the right sided trapezius muscle. As Osteopathic Solutions' UK Team are qualified Osteopaths they can enhance the task specific manual handling training with expert rehabilitation advice, aiding employee health and wellbeing. 

I have found Osteopathic Solutions to offer a complete manual handling service to Sutton Valence School, which include training courses and DVD courses at very competitive prices. Their medical knowledge and staff professionalism is exemplary. They always provide excellent advice and communication is a really strong point, which is important to us in the education sector. They also provide clear and concise documentation and their training courses are 1st class.  All of their staff are courteous, helpful and they always attend on time.

Julie Vicary, Estates Bursar

This page was updated in 2021. Osteopathic Solutions still continue to be Julie Vicary's and Sutton Valence School's provider of choice for Bespoke, onsite Manual Handling training

Sutton Valence School
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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