manual handling

Manual Handling | Health and Safety

Manual Handling | Health and Safety

In this article, our Health and Safety expert, Colin Jones, discusses manual handling within the workplace.

The Statistics

Manual handling incidents remain a major contributor to accidents and injuries in the workplace.

  • There was 1.7 million reported work-related illness in 2020/2022.
  • 442,000 non-fatal injures of which 18% can be attributed to manual handling.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 3 accidents at work are caused by manual handling. Many of these incidents cause damage to the back.
  • As an estimate, 9.5 million days were lost last year due to manual handling incidents.

The Law

What are Employers Responsibilities Regarding Manual Handling?

The employer’s duty is to avoid Manual Handling as far as reasonably practicable if there is a possibility of injury. If this cannot be done, then they must reduce the risk of injury as far as reasonably practicable.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, sets out legal responsibilities for employers and employees when engaging in any manual handling operation.

It affects all kinds of businesses, whether it is simply moving or lifting stationary boxes in the office or moving heavy loads on a building site.

Risk Assessments play a vital role in ensuring that control measures that are appropriate and proportionate to the task are identified and put in place. Employees should receive continuous instruction and guidance on good manual handling techniques.

Sadly, all too often poor lifting techniques can be witnessed in every workplace and work situations, this only acts as a constant reminder to ensure employees constantly receive the right instruction.

Is Manual Handling Training a legal Requirement?

Yes, this training is a legal requirement in any workplace where staff do any lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying, or lowering of loads. Training is very important in raising awareness and reducing risk, but it won’t ensure safe manual handling on its own.

Training should be relevant to the type of work carried out and should cover:

  • The risk factors and how injuries can happen
  • How to use mechanical aids
  • How to carry out safe manual handling, including good handling techniques
  • Systems of work relevant to the worker’s role and tasks
  • Practical work so the trainer can identify anything the employee is not doing safely and put it right

Consequences of Poor Manual Handling

Consequences are split into three main areas: short-term and superficial injuries, long-term injuries, and mental health issues.

1. Short-term and/or Superficial Injuries

For example, cuts, bruises, sprains, tears, small fractures, muscle strain, etc. Usually caused by sudden and small, unexpected accidents, e.g., losing grip and dropping a load, lifting an excessively heavy load at an awkward angle, or falling while carrying a load.

2. Long-term Injuries

This mainly involves damage to the musculoskeletal system of the body, including muscles, tendons, bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels – usually caused by long-term, gradual wear-and-tear because of repetitive strenuous activities. These are known as musculoskeletal disorders.

3. Mental Health Issues

For example, long-term stress, anxiety, and depression. This is usually a negative side effect of dealing with long-term injuries that have disabling and difficult-to-manage symptoms.

Physical ailments are more readily recognised than mental health issues related to poor manual handling, but you must not overlook the fact that long-term injuries can have a serious knock-on effect. As a result, they can lead to poor mental health due to the stress and anxiety triggered by long-term physical issues.

Therefore, knowing how to prevent the development of both physical and mental ailments caused by bad manual handling practices is essential.

What can we do at HPC to help you within your business?

Regardless of the industry you operate in, we would advise all businesses including those where manual handling isn’t necessarily part of the job to take precautions and educate your staff on the correct way to manually handle any load, be that a box in the office or a bag of cement on a building site. Your competent person should provide you with advice and guidance on this. Should you not have a person within your business who has the skill and experience in Health & Safety to assess risks and train your staff on manual handling techniques please get in touch with us to see how we can help.

To find out more information or to discuss manual handling in the workplace further, get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037


Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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