Lifting Heavy Loads

There are risks associated with heavy loads which can lead to accidents, injuries and diseases. You can avoid injuries by organizing the task, by using the correct equipment and by learning the correct lifting techniques.

  • Accidents, injuries and illnesses at risk when you are dealing with lifting heavy loads:
  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Back problems, pain or aches
  • Cricked back, lumbago or other acute back complaints
  • Slipped disc
  • Wear and tear on the back, neck, arms and legs
  • Arthritis


  • Try to organize the design of the vessel to cut heavy loads as much as possible, for example by locating storerooms so that stores do not have to be moved so often.
  • Provide equipment and facilities when required.
  • Give training in good lifting techniques, so that crew know how to lift heavy loads, how to lift repeatedly or carry out a physically straining lift.
  • Take the movement of the ship into account. Consider whether it is sensible to lift. Should more people be involved in lifting than usual? Can lifting be done in stages to make it easier?
  • Plan jobs with many heavy loads to involve more people.


  • Assess whether lifting should be done by two or more persons, or whether suitable equipment or facilities should be used instead.
  • Assess whether the person concerned is trained, used to lifting and suitable for doing the lifting job.
  • Assess whether the person concerned is wearing suitable work clothing, footwear and possibly safety gloves for doing the job..
  • Assess whether the job contains so many heavy loads that more people should be detailed for the job.    
  • Manual handling or lifting should be avoided in the following cases:
  •      The load is too heavy.
  •      The load is too unwieldy.
  •      The load can only be held at a distance from the body.
  •      The load could injure the person doing the lifting.
  •      Too much strain on the person doing the lifting due to poor/unstable working postition,for example in heavy weather.
  •      If there is a risk of the load's centre of gravity suddenly shifting and changing the load on the person.
  •      If local physical conditions prevent the use of good, safe lifting techniques, for example in cramped spaces, on greasy or slippery decks, lack of light, untidiness or flooring that is uneven or at  different levels.
  •      When moving loads over long distances.
  •      When repeated or lengthy lifting means too much strain.
  •      Cold and draughts can also increase the risk of injury when lifting. See also the table below.

What is a heavy lift?

Whether or not a lift is heavy is not just about how much it weighs. It is also essential to know how many times the load has to be lifted and how it is done.


Senior Occupational Health Consultant

Anne L. Ries

+45 3311 1833

+45 2961 8860

I can help you with:

  • Safety Organization
  • Consultancy
  • Physical working environment
  • The program Health and Safety at Sea
  • Legislation at sea