YARC is a critical support department at Yale. YARC staff members perform extensive manual work under challenging environmental conditions. This section provides an overview of these activities and suggestions for reducing or eliminating the risk of injury from them.


Materials Handling:

  • Minimize repetitive actions by rotating tasks as much as possible,
  • Whenever possible, reduce the size and weight of the load to make handling easier,
  • Be mindful and protect against sharp edges. Use gloves, coveralls, and safety shoes,
  • Lighting, temperature, and humidity can all contribute to the likelihood of an accident occurring. Evaluate the environmental conditions and postpone the work until conditions improve, slow down, take more frequent breaks, or ask for help.

Awkward Positions: [Click here for image]

  • Become aware of your posture. Good posture maintains the natural curve of the spine and includes relaxed shoulders that are held slightly back and level, ears in line with the shoulders, chin tucked slightly inward, and pelvis shifted forward to allow the hips to align with the ankles,
  • Sit close to your work and keep frequently used materials within reach,
  • Maintain neutral wrist/arm postures as much as possible,
  • Avoid twisting and bending motions. These types of movements can put pressure on the spine’s discs,
  • Use both hands instead of one to lift or complete tasks,
  • Respect your discomfort or pain. Change positions, stretch to ease stiff muscles, take a short break or change tasks.

Handling bulky sacks: [Click here for image]

Bulky sacks are easier to carry on your shoulder. Lift onto your shoulder from a platform as described below:
  • Move the sack to the edge of the platform,
  • Put your back against the sack,
  • Grasp with both hands on the upper corners,
  • Ease the sack onto your back, bending hips and knees before taking the weight,
  • Keep your back straight,
  • Stand up and straighten your hips and knees.

Placing or depositing the load: [Click here for image]

Consider the following techniques when placing or depositing a load:
  • As always keep the body in the neutral posture will help avoid injury while placing or depositing a load,
  • Keep a wide stance with one foot in front of one another,
  • Keep the load close to the body,
  • Bend at the knees when starting to place the load,
  • Keep the object tilted when close to the ground will allow for easy finger removal from underneath the box or load,
  • Avoid sudden movement and jerking motions at all times,
  • Whenever possible leave enough space to allow the equipment to slide in easily. Trying to fit a piece of equipment into a tight space can lead to hand injuries.

Loading and unloading equipment

Extreme care should be exercised when manually loading or unloading equipment.

  • Only move equipment that is of a weight that you can handle safely,
  • Tie off or remove any loose parts or components or parts or components that may become loose,
  • Large equipment should be rolled off using ramps or trailer gates,
  • If lowered by hand, be sure you can handle the load and stay clear of the load at all times,
  • Small equipment should be moved in crates, boxes, or strong (canvas, etc) type bags,
  • Be careful of sharp or rough “working parts” of all equipment,
  • When possible, lift and place equipment off of racks and cages above knee height and below chest height.

Tools and equipment

There are many different mechanical aids that can be used to assist with heavy material moving. Wheeled equipment aids which will help minimize the force needed to move a heavy object. The amount of force required to move loads with wheeled equipment depends on a number of factors listed below:
  • Weight and Shape of the load,
  • Type and condition of floor surfaces will effect how easy or hard it is to move load. A carpeted floor will require more force than a smooth surfaced hard floor like cement,
  • Type, size, and what the wheels are made of will make a difference in how much force is required to push or pull the cart,
  • Straps can be used to keep the load from shifting from one side to the other. Properly installed straps can prevent injury and property damage,
  • Know the limitations of this equipment and call the Office of Environmental Health and Safety for assistance with purchasing new equipment or tools.

Pushing and pulling

  • Always use two hands when pushing or pulling. Do not pull with one arm extended behind your body,
  • Ensure that good visibility is possible without awkward motions such as twisting or stretching. If your vision is blocked when pushing a cart from the back, move to the front corner of the cart to push,
  • Keep your upper arms against your rib cage with your elbows in. Keep your hands at or slightly above waist level. Keep your feet shoulder width apart,
  • Bend your knees slightly and move the load by shifting your weight. For example, with one leg in front of the other, bend your knees and move the load by shifting your shifting your weight from your back leg to your front leg.
In addition to the above recommendations below are some task specific instructions.

Moving Cages and Transporting Carts:

Consider the following recommendations while moving heavy or awkward cages and or carts.
  • Know your route prior to beginning the lift and move of the load,
  • Ensure that that the path to the location is free of obstacles and debris,
  • Set barriers to prevent people from coming close to or beneath supported or moving loads,
  • Move objects when traffic in these areas are at a minimum,
  • If walking with heavy loads long distances take breaks to allow the body time to rest,
  • Avoid sudden quick movements,
  • Never move a cage or cart that is too heavy,
  • If a cage or cart is broken or does not move easily it should be taken out of service.

Cage Changing and Washing

  • Try to keep the load in the “safe lifting zone.” The safe lifting zone is above your knees and below your shoulders If you need to reach higher a stool or step ladder may help keep a neutral posture,
  • Whenever possible use a cart or adjustable table so that workers are not lifting directly off of the floor,
  • Avoid bending and twisting motions.

Writing on Cages:

When writing on cages make sure that your wrist is not bent. This can cause discomfort and can lead repetitive motion disorders. If possible remove the card from the cage and write on a flat surface like a bench.


Cleaning: [Click here for image]

  • When mopping floors workers should move their feet from side to side. This will help avoid extreme reaches to left or right and reduce upper body strain,
  • When mopping for long periods of time workers should alternate the use of right arm and left arm to avoid fatigue. Frequent mini breaks can also help reduce fatigue,
  • Bending your knees and keep you’re back straight while using the mop ringer. This will help keep your spine in the neutral position,
  • Avoid lifting heavy mop buckets full of water and pouring them into the sink. Use a hose to drain the water.

Moving Carts with Cleaning Supplies:

  • Carts should be used whenever feasible, or carry only small quantities and weights of supplies,
  • Keep most used items closest to you, This will help avoid long reaches and subsequent strain on the muscular skeletal system,
  • Carts should be pushed not pulled,
  • Use well maintained carts with large, low rolling, low resistance wheels for easier maneuvering, This will help decrease the force needed to move the cart,
  • Handles on carts should be at waist height and positioned to allow for neutral postures, Some carts have adjustable handles and may be appropriate when carts are shared between workers.

Trash Removal:

  • When removing trash staff should try and keep straight back and bend at the knees, not at the waist while removing bag,
  • Making more frequent trips with less weight can help lessen the load on your muscular skeletal system,
  • Alternating the hand you use to remove the trash can also help prevent fatigue in one arm,
  • If trash bag is too heavy get help from another employee or use a mechanical aid such as a dolly or cart.


  • Keep loads light when working in extreme cold/heat,
  • Wear properly designed clothing to decrease heat absorption,
  • Drink lots of fluids when working in high temperature environments,
  • Frequent mini breaks when working in hot environments.