Lifting tips for courier drivers

As a courier driver, you’re likely to be transporting heavy loads on a regular basis. If you want to maintain your physical wellbeing, it’s worth learning how to lift packages safely. Incorrect handling methods are a key cause of back injury in the workplace.

You also need to protect yourself out on the road, as couriers face an increased risk of adverse driving conditions, theft and road traffic accidents.

Vans are larger than the average vehicle, making them more vulnerable to damage when travelling on busy motorways and narrow roads.

Following a safe method for lifting helps to protect your body, but your bank account needs protecting, too. You need to secure reliable cover, as you may be liable for the goods you’re transporting.

Insurance Factory can arrange courier insurance tailored to your vehicle, business and budget.

We understand the pressures linked to life as a courier, which is why we provide straightforward and affordable policies, giving busy van drivers peace of mind.  

Take a look at our top tips on safe lifting – the goods you transport may be valuable, but your health is priceless.

Think before you lift

Before you pick up a package, think it through, considering the following factors:
  • Where will you place the load once you’ve picked it up?
  • Do you need assistance lifting and moving the load?
  • Is there any equipment you could use to aid safe lifting?
  • Are there any obstructions that could make lifting unsafe? Other fragile goods placed nearby, or loose materials used for wrapping could cause slippages or get in the way when you’re moving the load.
  • How long is the lift? For example: if you’re shifting a load from the ground to shoulder level, plan the move, selecting a stable, sturdy surface to rest the load on at the halfway point so you can stabilise your grip.

Close to the waist is the safest place

It’s always best to hold the load near to your waist during a lift, as this minimises the level of pressure placed on your back.

Try to maintain this proximity for as long as possible, positioning the heaviest side of the load right beside you.

If you’re unable to get close to the load before lifting it, consider sliding it towards you and then attempt the lift.

A stable, sturdy position is best

Keep your feet apart, placing one leg a little further forward to provide better balance – if the load is at ground level, your leg should be positioned alongside this.

Make sure you’re wearing loose or stretchy clothing and sturdy footwear, as you’ll need to shift your feet when lifting in order to sustain a stable position.

Flip-flops or tight trousers could pose a problem!

A nice firm grip

Try to get a good purchase on the load by hugging it close to your body.

This is a safer, more secure way of lifting – a hands-only lift makes for a weaker, less solid grip, increasing the likelihood of you dropping the package.

Never fully bend your back

When lifting a load, only allow for a slight bending of the knees, hips and back, at the start of the procedure.

What’s the golden rule of safe lifting?  Avoid fully bending your back. Fully flexing the knees and hips – dropping into a full squat – is also an unsafe practice.

If you straighten your legs too quickly or forcefully as you raise the load, watch out for bending too far backwards and losing your balance.

No twisting

Twisting is not a good idea when handling heavy objects, as it could wrench your back, causing serious injury.

As you lift the load, do not lean to the side or twist your back – following this advice is even more important when your back is bent.

Maintain level shoulders and stay aligned with the direction of your hips. If you need to turn, it’s safer to do so by shifting your feet instead of twisting at the waist.

Eyes forward

Once you’ve got a firm grip on the load, resist the urge to look downwards when raising it. Keep your head in an upright position facing forward.

Smooth movements

If you work as a courier, it’s likely you’ll be on a tight schedule. However, it’s never worth risking your health to hit targets.

Even if you’re running behind the clock, avoid sharp, jerky or quick movements when picking up a weighty item: you’re more likely to lose control, suffering a painful injury.

Instead, opt for smooth, calm movements, maintaining a strong grip.

Of course, you can never rule out the chance of an accidental drop – causing damage to goods for which you are liable – so make sure you have first-rate courier insurance as well.

Adjust afterwards

Don’t concern yourself with adjusting the load until you’ve put it down in a secure place. Afterwards, if the load requires precise positioning, you can slide it into the ideal spot.

Don’t push your limits

No matter how much pressure you’re under, don’t force yourself to handle or lift heavier loads than you can safely manage.

As the NHS states, there’s a difference between what you’re able to lift and what you’re able to lift safely.

If you’re concerned, it’s better to ask for help or get support.

Enjoying work on the road

While you can take smart safety measures when working with heavy loads, you can never rule out every risk.

Working as a courier can be highly rewarding – no two days are the same. However, the stress can be considerable, and timetables are often tight, so it’s vital to protect yourself with dependable cover.

You’ll be transporting valuable goods in your van, travelling long distances along motorways, roads and country lanes; your exposure to risks such as theft, road traffic accidents and injury is considerably higher than it would be for the average driver.

Insurance Factory is here to help make your life easier.

Courier insurance is designed to fit around your specific needs and budget, including benefits such as goods in transit cover up to £10,000 and liability insurance up to £2 million, with extensions of up to £5 million available.

Don’t put it off – get a quote today.