Lifting manhole covers safely.

Unbelievable but true: Until 1903, the maximum load that a person was allowed to carry in Switzerland was 125 kilograms! The Federal Council then set appropriate limits. As a rule, the manual lifting of loads should be kept to a minimum and mechanical aids should be used whenever possible. The manhole covers that our employees move several times a day weigh up to 430 kilograms. It is therefore a matter of extreme importance for cablex and the safety managers in the BSE unit to always refer people to suitable lifting equipment and the right technology.

12.11.2020
Author Carolin Rabea Primerova

Schachtdeckel heben (DE).

If you are lifting heavy loads such as manhole covers on your own, it is essential to ensure that the correct technique is used. 

Young employees in particular posses the necessary fitness and muscular power to move even heavy loads on their own. However, the frequent, difficult and incorrect lifting and carrying of loads can cause damage to muscles and wear to the skeleton. Most people only feel the consequences years later.  

Physical strain with poor posture is a major cause of musculoskeletal ailments; in the worst cases, the pain can mean that employees are unable to work. With respect to employers, damage to the musculoskeletal system accounts for an estimated one third of all employee absences and is responsible for costs totalling more than three billion Swiss francs per year.

In general, men should lift a maximum of 25 kilograms and women a maximum of 15 kilograms. Our cablex colleagues who work in the field exceed this maximum limit every day. People with well-trained muscles who are in good physical shape and who are experienced can also carry heavier loads than those indicated in the table.

Generally speaking, our employees not only have well-trained and developed muscles; they also perfect the correct lifting and carrying technique. This is demonstrated and taught in e-learning sessions.

The degree of stain results from the following factors:

  • load weight/lifting time
  • posture, physique, current condition of the person lifting
  • external conditions when lifting

When lifting large manhole covers weighing up to 300 kilograms, cablex safety officers recommend using a tandem lifter. This device allows the weight of a manhole cover to be comfortably distributed between two people. Its optimal power transmission facilitates lifting and setting down and helps protect the back. The tandem lifter is suitable for use on streets and open ground.

If you are lifting heavy loads such as manhole covers on your own, it is essential to ensure that the correct technique is used. This is the only way to protect the intervertebral discs and the entire musculoskeletal system. Lifting with a bent back puts adverse strain on the intervertebral discs and can cause back problems.

Therefore, the following generally applies:

  • lift from a squatting postilion
  • maintain an upright position when lifting (DON'T bend!)
  • share heavy, bulky loads
  • work gloves and safety shoes S3 reduce the risk of accidents
  • distribute loads evenly whenever possible
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