Tips for Safe Manual Handling at Work

According to the Health and Safety Executive, in 2012/13 manual handling injuries accounted for more than one in five  injuries sustained in the workplace.  That’s an incredible 17, 470 injuries from manual handling, and a staggering 90% of them resulted in the member of staff needing more than 7 days off work.  That gives an estimated 1.6 million work days lost to injury – not to mention the human cost!

What is classified as manual handling?

Contrary to what you might think, manual handling isn’t just about lifting.  The definition of manual handling for work is ‘the movement of a load by the use of physical effort’ and that includes pushing it, pulling it, lifting and carrying it or supporting picking up and putting down. The requirement for training and safe manual handling in the workplace is doesn’t just make common and empathetic sense but it’s a legal requirement covered under the Health & Safety at Work Act and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, Amended in 2002.

Risk assessment for Manual Handling.

As with all GOOD health and safety, the idea behind manual handling legislation is not to stop people lifting.  The approach to follow is one of simple assessment.  On our manual handling training courses, we suggest you become ELITE:

  • Environment: Think about where you are working: are you having to twist to lift? Is there enough space to get a good grasp of your load.
  • Load: What exactly are you lifting?  Does it have handles?  Is it a stable load or something that could fall?  What shape is it – can you get a clear hold of it? How heavy is it? (Don’t forget the recommended limits of 16kg for women and 25kg for men)
  • Individual: What are the capabilities of the person lifting it?  Do they have any particular limitations?
  • Task: What are you doing with the load?  Are you lifting it onto a high shelf or pushing it into a small space?
  • Equipment: Is there anything that would help, like a trolley?

Managers should be looking around for things that staff need to lift on a regular basis, and considering what equipment might help the staff.  (After all buying equipment is a far better investment than paying the injury fees if a member of staff gets hurt – one compensation websites suggests that even for a minor back injury the compensation fees could be as much as £1,500 – £5,000, and that’s without Fees for Intervention if the HSE find out).  As well as the managers taking their responsibility seriously, make sure all the staff are aware of the risks, what to do and what not to do buy investing in regular training (don’t think because you told them once at induction that that has stuck for good!).

Find out more about Health & Safety.

To find out more about Health and Safety in the workplace and get a Health and Safety qualification book a Level 2 Health and Safety in the Workplace course.