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Manual Handling

Manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work, and these injuries can occur almost anywhere in the workplace. These injuries can have serious implications for both employees and also employers due to their long lasting and far reaching impact.

 

Employers have to consider the risks to their employees due to the moving of items, whether by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling. Steps should then be taken to remove, reduce or control these risks so far as possible.

 

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require employers to:

  • Avoid the need for hazardous manual handling so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling that can’t be avoided; and
  • Reduce the risk of injury from manual handling so far as is reasonably practicable.

 

It may be possible to avoid manual handling using simple, inexpensive actions such as having raw materials delivered to where they are to be used. It may sometimes be necessary though to use mechanisation or handling aids, such as a conveyor, pallet truck, hoist or lift truck, to avoid hazardous manual handling.

 

Where manual handling cannot be avoided, an assessment must be carried out. This will identify any precautions or control measures which need to be put in place in order to reduce the risk of injury. The HSE have produced some free tools which can assist employers carrying out these assessments:

  • MAC tool  – for tasks involving lifting, carrying and lowering
  • ART tool   – for tasks involving repetitive tasks, stretching, bending and awkward posture
  • Push/Pull tool  – for tasks involving pushing and pulling loads

 

When carrying out an assessment it is important to speak to your employees as they may notice hazards which are not obvious when observing the task. It is also important to consider the particular risks associated with some groups of workers such as young workers, new and expectant mothers, people with disabilities and lone workers.

 

It is important to record the significant findings of your risk assessment, though it is only a legal requirement to have a written assessment when you have five or more employees. Documenting your assessment will allow you to review it at a later date to ensure that it is still relevant.

 

Further information regarding manual handling can be found on the HSE website

 

 

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