Health & Safety – Manual Handling & Ergonomics

909,000 Work Days Lost to Manual Handling Injuries

Over the year of 2013-2014 it was estimated that 909,000 work days were lost in Great Britain due to handling injuries. That’s almost a million days off work across the country, and it makes up a third of all workplace injuries! If that’s not enough as an employer to catch your eye, then think about the effect that manual handling injuries can have on your staff’s health.

What are manual handling injuries?

Manual handling injuries are classified as injuries occurring from lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or lowering. Injuries are known as musculoskeletal disorders and can affect joints and tissues in the upper part of the body and the back. Serious injuries can incapacitate the person, either temporarily, or in some extreme cases, permanently

Less serious injuries can lead to time off work for a couple of days, recurring injury requiring intermittent time off over months, or years, or require hours of physical therapy and/or splints and medication.

Extended time off work from manual handling injuries

Musculoskeletal skeletal disorders are not something to take lightly.
They can be ongoing and niggling, leading to rapid decline in your workers’ physical health, productivity, and even mental health. Some workers may not ever be able to return to their previous role following a manual handling injury, or require many months in a different position. More than a quarter of workplace injury absences lasting longer than 7 days can be attributed to manual handling injuries.

Industries where employees are at risk of manual handling at work incidents

Who is at risk of suffering from manual handling injuries? Everyone! However, there are industries where these sort of injuries are more common, and which will need more stringent manual handling procedures laid out. These are any industries where moving heavy items occur and, more importantly, where these actions are repeated many times.

This will include people who are baggage handlers, those in manufacturing, warehouse staff, the construction industry, and transport specialists. This isn’t to say others are immune from injury. If you’re running an accountancy practice, and an employee is trying to fill the paper copier and is pulling down a lot of paper from a high shelf, she can just as easily get injured, too.

Manual handling legislation in the UK

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) manual handling regulations are laid out in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. This moving and handling legislation includes the duties of employers, as well as the duties of employees, and manual handling risk assessment. Those who are in breach of these regulations may find themselves liable for prosecution.

As an employer, you are, also required to provide training and information for employees in this area. So what’s the best way to do this?

Manual handling awareness training or principal and practical

There will be a number of organisations where in-house manual handling awareness training course would be inappropriate based on the activities undertaken. That’s ok, as training must be appropriate for the activities undertaken.

On the other hand, a safety awareness induction course covering the area of manual handling is a great start in getting your staff educated in the area of manual handling.

At Navigator, our tutor-led Manual Handling Awareness and Principles & Practical Training covers areas such as the load, the task, the working environment, and the individual capability and correct lifting techniques.

We can also provide’ train the trainer; courses and bespoke training materials developed specifically for your organisation to ensure you minimise the likelihood and severity of musculoskeletal injuries.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Graham Exley,

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