Manual Handling Update | C-Link

19 January 2017

Manual Handling Update

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The HSE has revised guidance and produced a new toolkit to help organisations manage and mitigate against the risks associated with manual handling activities.

Manual handling injuries are part of a wider group of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) which covers injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the upper or lower limbs or the back.

Many of these injuries are cumulative and not caused by any single accident. Poor manual handling invariably leads to these types of musculoskeletal disorders, but many of these injuries can be caused by different workrelated factors, such as use of vibrating tools, or repetitive movements over a long period of time.

The total number of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) cases in 2015/16 was 539,000 out of a total of 1,311,000 for all work-related illnesses, 41% of the total. An estimated 8.8 million working days were lost due to WRMSDs, an average of 16 days lost for each case. This represents 34% of all days lost due to work related ill-health in 2015/16.

The problems associated with manual handling are not confined to a few industries, but affect most workplaces. Highest rates are in skilled trade occupations, process and machine operatives, and in workers aged over 55.

What are your Legal Requirements?

Employers are legally required, wherever reasonably practicable, to reduce the need for manual handling in the workplace, either by eliminating such tasks completely or by use of work equipment such as conveyors or fork-lift trucks. Where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the manual task, there is a requirement to assess the manual handling activity in detail.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended 2002) should be considered alongside the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which contain a general requirement on employers to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of health and safety issues in the workplace that may affect employees while they are at work.

Where an assessment indicates that there is a possibility of risk from the manual handling of loads, the specific requirements of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 are applicable.

The 2002 amendments ensure consideration is given to factors such as a worker may be at risk if he or she is physically unsuited to carry out the task, is wearing unsuitable clothing, footwear or other personal effects, or does not have adequate knowledge or training.

Employer Responsibilities

Where work-related manual handling operations take place, employers must:

  • Avoid hazardous manual handling operations where possible
  • Assess the risks of any unavoidable hazardous operations
  • Eliminate or control the risk of injury, using an assessment as a basis for action

For more advice and making sure you meet your Legal Requirements, do not hesitate to get in touch with C-Link Partner, 4see.

Paul Heming

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