Summary It has already been shown that experienced handlers, known by their colleagues as experts, have developed methods that are different from those of novices which could be both safe and more efficient. The authors believe that these methods could inspire the development of training programs better adapted to the work. For the purposes of this study, handling experts and novice workers were invited to reproduce in the laboratory their methods under various working conditions. This enabled the researchers to collect biomechanical data and to make ergonomic observations in order to attempt to understand what differentiates them from novices. The results clearly show that experts adopt postures different from those of novices during handling tasks. Furthermore, this study validated several handling principles that could be used to improve training programs.