Manual handling


Manual handling

Manual handling includes any activity that involves lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling a load.

Nearly a third of all reportable accidents result from handling, lifting or carrying, causing all manner of injuries such as back problems, muscle strains, hernia, trapped nerves, fractures, cuts and crushing.

These injuries can cause employers substantial costs, through lost production, sickness absence costs of retraining, wages/overtime to cover for the absent person and compensation payments. The injured person may find that their ability to do their job is affected and there may be an impact on their lifestyle, leisure activities, ability to sleep and future job prospects.

The Manual Handling Regulations 1992 (as amended) detail a hierarchy of measures employers must follow:

  • Avoid hazardous manual handling operations. This can include redesigning a process, automating or mechanising it.
  • Risk assess those operations that cannot be avoided
  • Reduce the risk of injury from those operations as far as is reasonably practicable

As an employer you must also ensure employees are capable of safely carrying out the manual handling operations you give them. Age, sex, strength, experience and health will all need to be considered.

Assessments should consider

The task

How goods are lifted or moved to avoid stooping or lifting above head height, for example, or whether two people would be safer than one. Is there any repetitive twisting or bending or stretching involved? Some tasks may involve a combination of one or more movements.

The load

Can it be reduced in size and weight, made easier to handle and grasp?

The environment

Is it well-lit? Is the temperature suitable? Is the floor clear, the area tidy and easy to access?

The people

Are they capable and properly trained or supervised to use the safest methods and procedures to lift or move goods correctly?

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