Muscular stress (or “body stressing”) caused by lifting, carrying or putting down objects is the leading cause of workplace injury in construction and many other industries. Thankfully there are many procedural and behavioural changes we can make to reduce the risk of injury, and plenty of tools and equipment that can take the grunt work out of heavy lifting too. 

Here are three types of equipment that can help make lighter, safer work of heavy lifting. 

1. Chain blocks 

Chain blocks are often used on construction sites to lift loads up and down levels. As the name suggests, chain blocks use a chain to assist in lifting and lowering heavy loads. Also known as “hand chain hoists” these useful mechanisms are typically made from durable, high-grade steel for maximum reliability and lifting capacity. 

How do they work?

Chain blocks are simple to operate, making them an appealing lifting aid in many industries. They consist of three main parts: a lifting chain, the lifting mechanism and the hooks. The lifting chain is wrapped around the two wheels, and when one side of the chain is pulled the wheels begin to lift or lower the load. Most chain blocks have a swivel top hook, to allow for 360degree rotation, and a hook at the bottom to connect to the load.

Safety tips
  • Always wear suitable safety gloves when handling chains.

  • Check for any kinks or twists in chains before operating a chain block.

  • Always check your bottom hook will reach its lowest point without letting the chain run fully out. 

2. Pallet trucks and trolleys 

Pallet trucks and trolleys are a useful type of manual handling equipment to support work in warehouses, on docks and in factories. With an average load limit of between 2000kg and 2500kg, pallet trucks are designed to lift and transport large and heavy loads. 

How do they work?

Also known as pallet pumps, pump trucks, scooters and jiggers, pallet trucks and trolleys take the weight out of moving heavy pallet loads across flat, even surfaces. They can also be used to raise pallets to a safe working height for loading and unloading. Pallet trucks and trolleys have a forked base where pallets are placed, plus wheels and a handle for moving and manoeuvring your load.

  • Place your load evenly on the trolley. You can do this by centring the pallet evenly on the forks and as close to the back as possible. 

  • Where possible strap your load down before moving it.

  • Avoid using trolleys on ramps, steel slopes, soft or uneven ground.

  • It’s generally safer to push rather than pull large pallet trolley loads. 

3. Manual stair climbing trolleys 

If you’ve ever attempted to move a fridge or a couch up a flight of stairs, you’ll know what a blessing a manual stair climbing trolley can be! This simple yet clever and heavy duty type of equipment is used to move moderately heavy loads – like white goods, furniture, book boxes and other heavy or awkward items – up and down stairs, with less human effort and whilst placing less strain on the body. 

How do they work?

With three wheels positioned triangularly on each side, the trolley wheels rotate in tandem to create a smooth and lighter ride for your cargo – across flat surfaces or up and down stairs. This type of trolley is particularly useful in warehouse environments, on construction sites, in manufacturing and removals. 

  • Strap / secure your load to the trolley before tilting it back on the wheels

  • Wear non-slip footwear

  • Always operate trolley with both hands

  • Do not use trolleys in wet or icy conditions, or on escalators and travelators.

General safety tips

When you’re performing any task, with any type of lifting aid, remember to: 

  1. Wear suitable gloves and footwear and avoid loose fitting clothing.

  2. Be aware and mindful of other people working in your area.

  3. Never work or use equipment under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  4. Never use equipment to lift or move people.

  5. Know and respect your load limits.

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