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Manual handling loads

Did you know that incorrect manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries? These include work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as pain and injuries to arms, legs and joints, and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts, which accounts for significant sickness absence amongst the UK workforce.

In many cases, minor bad habits simply go unnoticed for years as cumulative damage occurs.

The term manual handling covers a wide variety of activities and falls under The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) which apply to all work which involves lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying, using our hands or bodily force.

If any of these tasks are not carried out appropriately there is a risk of injury.

It is especially important to consider issues in your workplace that are specific to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and make suitable arrangements to keep your staff safe.

Ensure you have a manual handling risk assessment in place. Anyone involved in the moving and handling of loads/goods (including moving people) could be at risk of injury. There are risks in handling even light loads if the task is repetitive or is being carried out in poor conditions.

Risks can be found in all work sectors, but healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and construction are recognized as high-risk industries due to the number and nature of the manual handling activities.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 requires that employers should follow this order of control measures to deal with manual handling risks.

  1. In the first instance try to avoid the need for hazardous manual handling. Decide whether you need to move the item at all or consider alternative ways of working, such as automation (using pallet trucks, trolleys, conveyor belts and so on).
  2. If you can’t do this then you need to assess the risks of injury from hazardous manual handling that cannot be avoided. This can be done in-house by finding ways of making the work easier, less risky and less physically demanding.
  3. Reduce the risk of injury to the lowest level reasonably practicable. This means to reduce risks until the cost of further precautions in time, money or trouble would be too great in proportion to the benefits.

A manual handling assessment is required when you cannot avoid a manual handling task and there is a risk of injury. It will help you in assessing the elements of the operation and assist in deciding suitable controls.

The assessment looks at the task, individual, load and environment, easily remembered by the acronym TILE. Some of the key factors to consider for each element are as follows.

  1. Task – consider if the activity involves any twisting, stooping, bending, travel, pushing, pulling, sudden movement of the load, team handling or seated work.
  2. Individual – individuals have varied physical capacity, and this should be considered in your assessment. It is important to look at each individual’s physical capability before carrying out a task. Anyone with a known injury or disability should be individually assessed. Special assessments will be required for young workers and those with impaired vision, reduced grip strength, pregnancy or disability.
  3. Load – consider if the load is heavy, difficult to grasp, sharp, hot or cold or if the contents are likely to move or shift.
  4. Environment – you need to think about the working environment as this may increase the risk related to the task. Consider floor conditions, variations on floor levels, space constraints, poor lighting or ventilation. Also hot or cold environments and wind conditions can all have an impact.

It’s very important that you consult and involve your employees while risk assessing manual handling tasks, when considering control measures and choosing between ways to reduce risks.

Manual handling injuries can have serious implications for the employer and the person who has been injured. They can occur almost anywhere in the workplace and heavy manual labour, awkward postures, repetitive movements of arms, legs and back or previous/existing injury can increase the risk.

We often find that employers are simply failing to assess the risk involved or providing inadequate ‘generic’ assessments.  In addition to placing employees at risk, in many cases, employers are failing to comply with their legal duties.

Training must also be fit for purpose, that is to say, reflect the types of work activity undertaken by employees.  Take time to develop programmes that meet specific needs, avoid simply ticking the ‘we’ve provided manual handling training box’ and moving on.  For example, if staff member’s job involves strenuous pushing and pulling activities, or they spend hours adopting fixed, static and sustained postures at workstations – why teach them to pick up a box?

The HSE website contains a wealth of useful information on musculoskeletal injury and whilst ordinarily, we don’t direct people to other sites, the team at Acorn have a passion for safe handling and the long-term ‘health’ of employers and employees alike.  If you don’t know your TILE from your RAPP, MAC, V-MAC and ART’s really not your thing, take a few minutes to visit the HSE Website

Acorn takes the time to gain an understanding of your manual handling requirements within your organisation to ensure we provide meaningful and relevant training. We are excellent at adapting courses to suit the particular customer needs and making manual handling training both relevant and enjoyable.

Our manual handling of loads course is aimed at support staff whose main role involves handling a variety of inanimate objects in the workplace. Particularly when delivered in-house, this course can be adapted to cover specific tasks such as pushing, pulling, transporting and supporting of a variety of loads and tie in with risk assessments, something else we can also help you with.

Our course programme employs a variety of teaching techniques to meet the needs of individual delegates and includes (but not restricted to) the following topics:

  • Predisposing factors of musculoskeletal injuries
  • Postural awareness and static loading
  • Spinal awareness
  • Principles of safer handling
  • Legislation
  • Risk assessment
  • Unsafe practices
  • Team handling

The emphasis on every course is to allow delegates to become confident in their skills through a range of theory and practical sessions as well as continuing assessment and feedback from the trainer.

You don’t have to take our word for how well we deliver these courses, take a look at our testimonials page where you will find great reviews, such as:

“This was the best manual handling session I have ever done. Nadine was very good and kept us interested in the subject!”
Y, Bristol Community Health, August 2019

To book one of our Manual Handling Open courses visit our open courses page on our website or contact us to discuss your specific needs in more detail.

Whatever your training needs, give us a call today 0117 958 2070 or e-mail us