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Title:
ADJUSTABLE LIFTING HANDLES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/090207
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An adjustable lifting handle (1) with strap means (3). The handle (1) includes a gripping portion (4) and a strap receiving portion (11) which allows adjustment of strap length and prevents movement of the strap means (3) under load via at least one retaining item (6). The lifting handle (1) with strap means (3) is useful for lifting heavy or awkward objects without bending and consequent risk of straining a person’s back or knees.

Inventors:
Spicer, Leslie John (261A Dickson Road, Papamoa, NZ)
Application Number:
PCT/NZ2005/000061
Publication Date:
September 29, 2005
Filing Date:
March 24, 2005
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Spicer, Leslie John (261A Dickson Road, Papamoa, NZ)
International Classes:
A44B11/00; A44B11/02; A44B11/18; B65D63/18; B65G7/12; (IPC1-7): B65G7/12; A44B11/00; B65D63/18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tyrer-harding, Denise (of Pipers Central, Level 5 KPMG Centre, 85 Alexander Stree, P.O. Box 19-334 Hamilton, NZ)
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Claims:
THE CLAIMS
1. DEFINING THE INVENTION ARE: Lifting means, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion.
2. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 1 wherein the strap means is substantially elongate.
3. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 2 wherein the strap means is substantially flexible.
4. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 3 wherein the strap means cooperates with strap receiving portion of the handle means, such that in use, the strap receiving portion of the handle means effectively prevents movement of the strap means.
5. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 4 wherein the strap receiving portion of the handle means includes at least one retaining member.
6. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 4 wherein where the strap receiving portion of the handle means includes more than one retaining member, the retaining members are spaced apart and in a substantially parallel arrangement.
7. Lifting means as claimed in Claims 4 and 5 wherein the retaining members enable the strap means to cooperate therewith between an adjustable orientation and a secured orientation.
8. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 7 wherein the retaining members enables the strap means to be adjustable in length when the strap means is in an adjustable position relative to the retaining members.
9. Lifting means as claimed in Claim 7 wherein when the strap means is in a secured orientation the lifting means is oriented to effect lifting of the object with which the lifting means is being used.
10. Handle means for use with lifting means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion and said handle means cooperable with strap means of the lifting means.
11. A method of lifting an object using lifting means, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion, said method including the steps of: a) Placing the strap means under the centre of the object to be lifted; and b) Adjusting the handle means such that the length of the strap means complements the height required to give each person a comfortable lift; and then c) Each person, maintaining their body in a totally upright posture and using one hand to lift and the other hand to steady the load, lifting the object a minimum height to clear any obstacle and carry the load away.
12. A method of adjusting the lifting means for use with varyingly configured objects, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion, said strap receiving portion including at least two spaced apart and substantially parallel retaining members, said method including the steps of: a) Positioning handle means such that the longitudinal axis of the strap receiving portion is at a 90 degree angle to the longitudinal axis of the strap means; and b) Positioning the strap means relative to the strap retaining portion in such a manner that one of the at least two spaced apart and substantially parallel retaining members is above the strap means, and at least one other of the retaining members is below the strap means; and c) Moving the strap receiving portion along the length of the strap means to effect the desired length of the strap means for lifting an object; and d) Repositioning the strap receiving portion such that the handle means is returned to the strap retaining orientation, whereby the handle means is raised to its lifting position such that the longitudinal axis of the strap receiving portion moves through 180 degrees and the retaining members are in the same longitudinal plane as the strap means, thereby securing the strap means against itself.
13. A method of manufacture of lifting means, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion, said strap receiving portion including at least two spaced apart and substantially parallel retaining members, said method including the steps of: a) Manufacturing two handle means, each handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion, said strap receiving portion including at least two spaced apart and substantially parallel retaining members; said strap receiving portions of each handle means being adapted to receive, b) strap means, said strap means being substantially elongate and interconnecting the two handle means in a manner that allows a length of the strap means to be positioned under an object such that the object can be lifted by the lifting means.
Description:
ADJUSTABLE LIFTING HANDLES

Technical Field

This invention relates to adjustable lifting handles.

In particular, the invention relates to a device suitable for lifting heavy and/or awkward objects without requiring the bending and consequent risk of straining of either a person's back or knees.

It is envisaged the security means will be applicable to any commercial, industrial or domestic situation where objects are required to be lifted. However, the invention may have applications outside this field.

Background Art

For years people have had a problem lifting and carrying heavy awkward loads, not so much because of the weight but because of the difficulty of getting a suitable hold on the object to be lifted.

The answer has been to bend down and get a grip under the article in question. This has resulted in many people suffering from severe back damage. To offset this authorities have been trying to convince people to "use their knees, not their backs." As a result of this advice people are now reporting with knee problems.

A number of means have been developed and are available in the prior art to assist with the lifting and carrying of heavy and/or awkward objects. Some of these include wheeled lifting aids, such as forklifts, hoists, trucks. In addition, manual lifting aids including straps, belts, stretchers.

The problem with forklifts, or cartage trucks is that they may not be suitable for use in confined areas, or where the object to be lifted and carried is an irregular shape. Hoist systems require a gantry and as such tend to be more useful in workshops, warehouses and the like, but not for use in domestic situations. Straps, belts and stretchers are useful. However, they are often not designed for use with varyingly sized objects, may not be adjustable, may not be designed with health needs in mind, may not be easy to use, or may be rigid structures in whole or part designed only for specific use with particular objects.

While the present invention has a number of potentially realisable applications, it is in relation to problems associated with existing lifting means that the present invention was developed. More specifically, it was with safety and health issues associated with the manual lifting of heavy and awkward objects, that the present invention was developed.

It would be useful therefore, to have a lifting means that:

a) Was a manual system; and

b) Would be able to be used in confined spaces; that

c) Would have minimal components; and

d) Would be easy to use; yet

e) Could be adjusted; and as such

f) Would also be readily useable with a variety of objects of varying dimensions, shapes and weights; and yet

g) Could be used with the benefits of safety and health issues in mind; and

h) Could be a more cost effective option to existing lifting means.

It would therefore be advantageous to have an invention that offered at least some, if not all, of the advantages of the above proposed lifting means. It is therefore an object of the present invention to consider the above problems and provide at least one solution which addresses a plurality of these problems. It is therefore one object of the present invention to at least provide the public with a useful choice or alternative system.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a safe and easy method of attaching two easy grip handles to any object to enable the weight to be lifted and/or carried with the person's body in the optimum upright position.

Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the ensuing description which is given by way of example only. It should be appreciated that variations to the described embodiments are possible and would fall within the scope of the present invention.

Disclosure of Invention

Awkward loads can make handling and lifting difficult. Whilst handles can reduce the force required to handle a load and increase the precision and ease with which the load can be moved, the location, shape position and size of the handles can all be important.

Often working heights that are too low will require individuals to adopt unwise lifting postures. Where objects are carried, pushed or pulled over long distances, the strain on muscles is continuous. Where two people are carrying or moving an object together, there needs to be a co-ordinated approach to avoid injury to one or both individuals.

In a United States study by the National Safety Authority NIOSH, the results indicated no evidence that backbelts reduced back injury or back pain for retail workers who lift or move merchandise.

It is in regard to the problems of back strain and knee strain injuries and the lack of alternative available lifting means to lift heavy, cumbersome or awkward loads that the present invention was devised.

According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion. According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein the strap means is substantially elongate.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein the strap means is substantially flexible.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein the strap means co-operates with the strap receiving portion of the handle means, such that in use, the strap receiving portion of the handle means effectively prevents movement of the strap means .

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein the strap receiving portion of the handle means includes at least two spaced apart and substantially parallel retaining members.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein the retaining members enables the strap means to co-operate therewith between an adjustable orientation and a secured orientation.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein the retaining members enables the strap means is adjustable in length when in the adjustable position relative to the retaining members.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided lifting means substantially as described above wherein when the strap means is in a secured orientation the lifting means is oriented to effect lifting of the object with which the lifting means is being used.

According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided handle means for use with lifting means.

According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of lifting an object using lifting means, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion. According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of adjusting the lifting means for use with varyingly configured objects, said lifting means including handle means and strap means, said handle means including gripping portion and strap receiving portion.

In preferred embodiments of the present invention the strap means consists of an elongate length of suitable woven webbing for passing under the object to be lifted. The strap means is substantially strong and durable, yet flexible to allow for the strap means to be easily fitted relative to any shaped object, yet be strong enough to carry the weight of the object without the strap means ripping/breaking.

Each end of the strap means co-operates with a comfortable grip sized handle means. The handle means includes a griping portion which enables the user to comfortably grip the handle means in use. The gripping portion may be varyingly configured. For example, in some embodiments, the gripping means may be a substantially tubular portion that is free moving or fixed. When assembled, the gripping portion is so formed that a section of the strap retaining members of the handle means are inserted through the gripping portion. This provided additional strength to the handle means and to the overall strength of the lifting means. However, as can be appreciated, that in other embodiments, where the objects being lifted may not be very heavy, but are more cumbersome, the strap retaining members may be simply inserted into a portion of a substantially solid gripping means. However, this latter described embodiment is not as strong as the more preferred embodiments described above.

The strap retaining means of the handle means as previously described includes at least two strap retaining members. The strap retaining members are effectively at least two, substantially parallel oriented bars through and around which the strap means is threaded. In a couple of preferred embodiments, the configuration of the strap receiving portion and the retaining members there part of, is that the whole structure is produced from a single length of material, bent to the preferred shape. The length of material may be bent to create any preferred and operationally effective shape - such as a rhomboid, as a parallelogram, triangular, to create a rectangle, triangle, square, or even a pentagon, or any other suitable shape and so forth. In the preferred embodiments to which the above described strap retaining portion is relevant, the length of the strap retaining portion is such that it is bent in eight places to create a double rhomboid where each rhomboid shape lies substantially adjacent and parallel to the other. The double rhomboid therefore includes substantially three upper, two lower and two, double side portions. The upper portions include the two distal ends of the length of material and as such these are substantially shorter than the third portion which is of a length substantially longer than the length of the two lower portions. The two, double side portions are angled down from the upper portions to the lower portions.

The upper portions are designed to receive and accommodate the gripping portion. The distal ends of the length of strap retaining portion are also preferably located in the region of the upper portion to effect a substantially seamless, yet strong configuration of the handle means. The two lower portions become the at least two retaining members. The side portions serve to effectively space the upper and lower portions, as well as providing a reduced length to the lower portions, as required to accommodate the strap means.

The shorter length of the lower portions is preferred to accommodate the strap means in a manner that minimises lateral movement of the strap means, to ensure the strap means is in its preferred orientation when an object is being lifted. In some preferred embodiments the ability of the strap means to slide along the lower portions (and even curl around into the side portions) is further restricted by either including stop means, or by the configuration of the gripping portion. In some embodiments the stop means may include a welded area between the double rhomboid structure and in the vicinity of the junction of the side portions to the lower portions. It should be appreciated however, that any suitable stop means may be used with or adapted for use with the present invention.

Where the gripping portion is adapted to serve as the stop means, the gripping portion may extend not only around the upper portions, but also around the side portions, such that the gripping means, adjacent the lower portion serves as the stop to lateral travel of the strap means.

In preferred embodiments, the preferred material from which the strap retaining portion of the handle means is manufactured is stainless steel. . This material is strong and durable. In one preferred embodiment, 700mm length of quarter inch diameter, 316 stainless steel is used. Where any welding is required, the welding is achieved using 316L stainless steel electrodes. However, it should be appreciated that this description is directed to only one embodiment and as such is not to be seen as limiting the scope of the present invention.

The gripping portion of the handle means in one embodiment is made from 110mm x 25.4mm x 1,42mm thick aluminium tube. However, the gripping means may also be made from tubular steel, stainless or powder coated (for aesthetic, identification and protective reasons), or from any other suitable means, such as thermoplastic materials. Different coloured gripping means may connote different lengths and/or thicknesses of the strap means. Thermoplastic materials are suitably adapted to an embodiment where the gripping portion serves as the stop means to lateral travel of the strap means when arranged relative to the retaining lower member of the strap receiving portion of the handle. Further, the use of thermoplastics materials enables finger grips to be molded into the gripping portion for improved gripping. Again, it should be appreciated that this description is directed to only one embodiment and as such is not to be seen as limiting the scope of the present invention.

For example, in another embodiment, the lifting means may be made out of 2-3mm steel cut to a template shape from plate steel. The strap receiving means would be one complete section having an upper portion, lower portion and side portions as cut from the template. The distance between the retaining members of the strap receiving means would be predetermined as required, as would the length of the spacing between the retaining members (required to receive the strap having a preferred width and thickness). The internal cut out section of the receiving portion could be roll- curled up to create the gripping means. The handle portion as a whole would therefore be one unit and could be finished by any means, such as powder coated, or plastics coated, for example, as desired for practical, aesthetic and economic reasons.

The strap means of one embodiment is webbing material of 3.5metre length, 50mm width and is a 57.39gram/metre seat belt quality synthetic webbing having a breaking strain in excess of 1000 kilograms. Testing of the invention has demonstrated that when used with even a 500kg load, the invention provides a large margin of safety compared to what two men could be regarded, in an extreme case, as capable of lifting. In use, the handle means is positioned in its strap receiving configuration to enable free movement of the strap means. In this orientation, the handle means is effectively inverted. The strap means is fed through and around the strap retaining members. The handle means is able to be easily moved along the strap means webbing to a preferred position which dictates the length of the strap means for use with the particular object. The orientation of the handle means is then adjusted to the strap retaining orientation. In this orientation, the handle means is raised to its lifting position. The lifting means is then ready for use in lifting the object. In the lifting position any increase in lifting effort increases the grip of the retaining members of the handle on the webbing/strap means. The method of using the lifting means includes the steps of:

a) Placing the strap under the centre of the object to be lifted; and b) Adjusting the handles to suit the height required to give each person a comfortable lift; and the c) Each person, maintaining their body in a totally upright posture and using one hand to lift and the other hand to steady the load, lifting the object a minimum height to clear any obstacle and carry it away.

The strap receiving portion is placed with the longitudinal axis at a 90 degree angle to the longitudinal axis of the webbing. One retaining bar member is above the webbing, the other retaining bar member is below the webbing. The webbing is passed through in such a manner as to allow free movement of the bars along the length of the webbing, or by turning the bars together through 180 degrees on their longitudinal plane, there is a means of securely locking the webbing against itself.

These two elements combined together, along with a handle are designed to facilitate the manual lifting of awkward loads. Accordingly, the invention enables the load to be lifted so that it is held close to the body. In addition, the minimum height of lift required can be 25mm. Using the present invention the potentially realisable benefits are that there is no longer a need to strain the back or knees of the person doing the lifting.

To minimize loss of the strap means from the lifting means, and to prevent inaccurate threading of the strap means through the retaining members, each distal end of the strap means may be folded over on to itself and secured in place by suitable means including one or more of , gluing, riveting, heat welding and so forth. The thicker ends of the strap means thereby created operate to limit the ability to pull the strap means off the handle means.

The present invention is therefore directed to a device consisting of two handles, interconnected by a suitable webbing strap in a manner that allows objects to be comfortably lifted with minimum strain to the human body. The lifting means is able to be used with a range of objects, such as chest freezers, large boxes, lounge suites, rolls of flooring materials such as carpet or vinyl, mattresses, refrigerators, and so forth. It therefore, provides an alternative lifting means not only for use around the home, but in commercial ventures, such as furniture removal businesses, flooring laying businesses. In addition, it has advantages in industrial situations when lifting objects, such as 44 gallon drums and the like in confined areas.

In the United States a base load of 23kg is the starting point at which weights of objects lifted are to be controlled. Use of a Lifting Index determines the need to address problems when moving heavy or difficult objects. The higher the Lifting Index the greater the need to address the problem. The lifting Index takes into consideration: a) The horizontal distance from the mid point of the load to the mid point of the ankles when grasping a load. b) The vertical distance of the hands above the floor when grasping the load. c) The vertical distance the hands travel during the lift. d) The angle of spinal twist required. e) The nature of the hand grip on the load. f) The number of lifts per minute and the number of hours lifting.

These values are all multiplied together to obtain the Lifting Index.

It is envisaged, the present invention will enable objects to be lifted in accordance with relevant health and safety regulations in various countries.

It will be appreciated that the invention broadly consists in the parts, elements and features described in this specification, and is deemed to include any equivalents known in the art which, if substituted for the prescribed integers, would not materially alter the substance of the invention. Variations to the dimensions of the lifting means may be desirable depending on the objects with which it is to be used. Regard would of course be had to effecting the desired dimensions, such as increased length or width whilst maintaining a durable, strong and substantially effective lifting means.

For example, in various embodiments, the retaining member(s) of the strap retaining portion of the handle may be differently configured. In one embodiment the at least two retaining members may be positioned at a fixed distance from each other such that the space between them through which the strap is fed, is a constant. In another embodiment, one of the at least two retaining members may be moveable. The movement may be limited to travel along a pathway defined by slots on each side of the handle portion through which one of the retaining members may be positioned. Movement would be restricted during lifting by the pressure of the strap means pulling down on the moveable retaining member in a manner which effectively secures the strap means between the moveable retaining member and a fixed retaining member. In yet other embodiments the retaining member may simply be one moveable retaining member. In the operation of one example of this arrangement, the moveable retaining member again co-operates at each of its distal ends with slots/apertures in the handle means. In such embodiments the slot would preferably be tapered so that as pressure is applied to the moveable retaining member it is forced to engaged with the narrowing slot aperture which in effect tightens the retaining member and secures the strap means with which it is associated. In another option, the moveable retaining means may cooperate with a buckle-type arrangement, such that the moveable retaining means slides relative to each side of a buckle shaped body. The moveable retaining means may be pushed against the top or bottom edges of the buckle arrangement either by the user or via the pressure applied to tighten the strap means which in effect tightens the retaining member and secures the strap means with which it is associated.

In various embodiments the lifting apparatus may include or be adapted to include a releasable seat belt buckle arrangement, a pivoting clamping system, or a ratcheted securing system, each of which would allow adjustment of the length of the strap means, but each of which is capable of securely maintaining the strap means relative to the handle portion, seat belt buckle arrangement, a pivoting clamping system, or a ratcheted securing system when the lifting apparatus is in use. The present invention is differentiated from many existing products by virtue of at least its handle means being designed without the need for welding pieces of the handle together, yet providing a strong and safe handle means for use with the lifting means, without the need for brackets to attach the handle means to the strap means, and so forth.

Whilst some varying embodiments of the present invention have been described, it should further be appreciated different embodiments, uses, and applications of the present invention also exist. A couple of embodiments of the present invention will now be given by way of example only, to help better describe and define the present invention. However, describing the specified embodiments should not be seen as limiting the scope of this invention.

Brief Description of Drawings Further aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description, given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure Ia is a front view of one distal end of the lifting means in accordance with one preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

Figure Ib is a side view of the handle means of the lifting means of Figure 1 in accordance with that preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

Figure Ic is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of the handle means of the lifting means to illustrate the design principles, in accordance with the embodiment of Figure 1 of the present invention; and

Figure Id is a diagrammatic side view to illustrate the locking principle of the strap means in co-operation with the handle means in accordance with the embodiment of Figure 1 of the present invention; and

Figures le-f are diagrammatic side perspective views of the lifting means to illustrate the adjusting and lifting position of the handle means in accordance with the embodiment of Figure 1 of the present invention; and Figure 2 is a front view of the gripping portion of the handle means in accordance with other preferred embodiments of the present invention; and

Figure 3 is a front view of a template version of the handle means in accordance with other preferred embodiments of the present invention; and

Figures 4a-c are diagrammatic representations of the method of using the lifting means in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

Figures 5a-c are diagrammatic representations of the lifting means in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

Figures 6a-c are diagrammatic representations of the lifting means in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

Figures 7a-c are diagrammatic representations of the lifting means in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

Figures 8a-c are diagrammatic representations of the method of using the lifting means in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Best Modes for Carrying Out the Invention

With reference to the diagrams (Figures 1 to 4c) by way of example only there is provided a lifting means (generally indicated by arrow (I)). Whilst in this description the lifting means is described and referenced herein with use for lifting awkward or heavy objects (10), it should be appreciated this invention may have applications outside this field.

Figures Ia to 2 illustrate one possible embodiment of the lifting means. However, as may be appreciated when considering Figures 3 to 4c and by any person skilled in the art, variations to the design, applicability and functioning of the lifting means are possible and should be considered within the ambit of the present application. Accordingly, the handle means in these latter embodiments includes a fully molded gripping portion and a handle means cut from plate steel. The lifting means of the present invention includes handle means (2) and strap means (3). The handle means (2) in turn includes gripping portion (4) and strap receiving portion (5).

The strap means is substantially elongate and is substantially flexible and co-operates with the strap receiving portion of the handle means, such that in use, the strap receiving portion of the handle means effectively prevents movement of the strap means. The strap means is an elongate length of suitable woven webbing for passing under the object to be lifted which is substantially strong and durable, yet flexible to allow for the strap means to be easily fitted relative to any shaped object, yet be strong enough to carry the weight of the object without the strap means ripping/breaking. The strap means of one embodiment is 3.5metre long, 50mm wide and is a 57.39gram/metre seat belt quality synthetic webbing having a breaking strain in excess of 1000 kilograms.

The strap receiving portion of the handle means as shown in Figures 1 and 3 includes at least two spaced apart and substantially parallel retaining members (6) which enable the strap means to co- operate therewith between an adjustable orientation and a secured orientation as illustrated in Figures Ie and If, respectively.

Each end of the strap means co-operates with a comfortable grip sized handle means. The handle means includes a gripping portion which enables the user to comfortably grip the handle means in use. The gripping portion may be varyingly configured. For example, the gripping means may be a substantially tubular portion as shown in Figure 1 to 2 that is free moving or fixed. When assembled, the gripping portion is so formed that a section of the strap retaining members of the handle means are inserted through the gripping portion as shown in Figure Ic. This provides additional strength to the handle means and to the overall strength of the lifting means. An alternative embodiment of the gripping portion is illustrated in Figure 2.

The strap retaining members are effectively at least two, substantially parallel oriented bars through and around which the strap means is threaded. The strap receiving portion and the retaining members thereof, as shown in Figures 1 to 2, are produced from a single length of material bent to the preferred shape. The length of material may be bent to create any preferred and operationally effective shape. In the embodiment of Figure 2, the length of the strap retaining portion is such that it is bent in eight places to create a double rhomboid where each rhomboid shape lies substantially adjacent and parallel to the other. The double rhomboid therefore includes substantially upper (7), lower (8) and side portions (9). The upper portions include the two distal ends of the length of material and as such these are substantially shorter than the third portion which is of a length substantially longer than the length of the two lower portions. The two, double side portions are angled down from the upper portions to the lower portions.

The upper portions are designed to receive and accommodate the gripping portion. The distal ends of the length of strap retaining portion are also preferably located in the region of the upper portion to effect a substantially seamless, yet strong configuration of the handle means. The two lower portions become the at least two retaining members. The side portions serve to effectively space the upper and lower portions, as well as providing a reduced length to the lower portions, as required to accommodate the strap means.

The shorter length of the lower portions is preferred to accommodate the strap means in a manner that minimises lateral movement of the strap means, to ensure the strap means is in its preferred orientation when an object is being lifted. In some preferred embodiments the ability of the strap means to slide along the lower portions (and even curl around into the side portions) is further restricted by either including stop means (11), being a welded area between the double rhomboid structure and in the vicinity of the junction of the side portions to the lower portions, or by the configuration of the gripping portion as shown in the embodiment of Figure 3.

In use, the handle means is positioned in its strap receiving configuration to enable free movement of the strap means. In this orientation, the handle means is effectively inverted. The strap means is fed through and around the strap retaining members. The handle means is able to be easily moved along the strap means webbing to a preferred position which dictates the length of the strap means for use with the particular object. The orientation of the handle means is then adjusted to the strap retaining orientation. In this orientation, the handle means is raised to its lifting position. The lifting means is then ready for use in lifting the object. In the lifting position any increase in lifting effort increases the grip of the retaining members of the handle on the webbing/strap means.

The method of using the lifting means is illustrated in Figures 4a to 4 c and includes the steps of: a) Placing the strap under the centre of the object to be lifted; and b) Adjusting the handles to suit the height required to give each person a comfortable lift; and the c) Each person, maintaining their body in a totally upright posture and using one hand to lift and the other hand to steady the load, lifting the object a minimum height to clear any obstacle and carry it away.

The strap receiving portion is placed with the longitudinal axis at a 90 degree angle to the longitudinal axis of the webbing. One retaining bar member is above the webbing, the other retaining bar member is below the webbing. The webbing is passed through in such a manner as to allow free movement of the bars along the length of the webbing, or by turning the bars together through 180 degrees on their longitudinal plane, there is a means of securely locking the webbing against itself.

These two elements combined together, along with a handle are designed to facilitate the manual lifting of awkward loads. Accordingly, the invention enables the load to be lifted so that it is held close to the body. In addition, the minimum height of lift required can be 25mm. Using the present invention the potentially realisable benefits are that there is no longer a need to strain the back or knees of the person doing the lifting.

To minimize loss of the strap means from the lifting means, and to prevent inaccurate threading of the strap means through the retaining members, each distal end of the strap means may be folded over on to itself (as at 12) and secured in place by suitable means including one or more of , gluing, riveting (13), heat welding and so forth. The thicker ends of the strap means thereby created operate to limit the ability to pull the strap means off the handle means.

It should be appreciated that the present invention lends itself to more than one application. Hence, the invention may be adapted through a change to one or more of any structural feature, dimensions, and so forth. As can be appreciated a variety of different embodiments, uses, and applications of the present invention therefore exist, even within the ambit of the above described security means system. As previously described, various embodiments may vary in the manner of construction and operation, but yet may achieve the same outcome. For example, the retaining member(s) of the strap retaining portion of the handle may be differently configured. In one embodiment the at least , two retaining members may be positioned at a fixed distance from each other such that the space between them through which the strap is fed, is a constant, such as in Figures 5a-c. In another embodiment, one of the at least two retaining members may be moveable. The movement may be limited to travel along a pathway defined by slots on each side of the handle portion through which one of the retaining members may be positioned. Movement would be restricted during lifting by the pressure of the strap means pulling down on the moveable retaining member in a manner which effectively secures the strap means between the moveable retaining member and a fixed retaining member. In yet other embodiments the retaining member may simply be one moveable retaining member as shown in Figures 6a-c. In the operation of one example of this arrangement, the moveable retaining member again co-operates at each of its distal ends with slots/apertures in the handle means. In such embodiments the slot would preferably be tapered and/or angled so that as pressure is applied to the moveable retaining member it is forced to engaged with the narrowing slot aperture which in effect tightens the retaining member and secures the strap means with which it is associated. The retaining member may be configured on its surface to further assist in secure tightening of it relative to the strap or the handle portion. In another option, the moveable retaining means may cooperate with a buckle-type arrangement as shown in Figures 7a-c, such that the moveable retaining means slides relative to each side of a buckle shaped body. The moveable retaining means may be pushed against the top or bottom edges of the buckle arrangement either by the user or via the pressure applied to tighten the strap means which in effect tightens the retaining member and secures the strap means with which it is associated.

In various embodiments the lifting apparatus may include or be adapted to include a releasable seat belt buckle arrangement, a pivoting clamping system, or a ratcheted securing system, each of which would allow adjustment of the length of the strap means, but each of which is capable of securely maintaining the strap means relative to the handle portion, seat belt buckle arrangement, a pivoting clamping system, or a ratcheted securing system when the lifting apparatus is in use. One example is provided in Figures 8a-c.

Therefore, the lifting means of the present invention has potentially realisable benefits over prior art systems in that it provides as listed below, alone or in combination: a) A manual system; and

b) It is able to be used in confined spaces; and

c) It has minimal components; and

d) It is easy to use; and

e) It is adjustable; and as such

f) It is readily useable with a variety of objects of varying dimensions, shapes and weights; and also

g) Can be used with the benefits of safety and health issues in mind; and

h) Provides a cost effective option to existing lifting means.

It should also be understood that the term "comprise" where used herein is not to be considered to be used in a limiting sense. Accordingly, 'comprise' does not represent nor define an exclusive set of items, but includes the possibility of other components and items being added to the list.

This specification is also based on the understanding of the inventor regarding the prior art. The prior art description should not be regarded as being an authoritative disclosure of the true state of the prior art but rather as referring to considerations in and brought to the mind and attention of the inventor when developing this invention.

Aspects of the present invention have been described by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope thereof, as defined in the appended claims.