Comprehensive Guide to Manual Handling in the Workplace

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Manual handling is a standard task in most workplaces. Whether it is a construction site or a quiet office, all the staff working in such workplaces are required to perform manual handling tasks at their work. However, in some workplaces, the frequency of manual handling tasks is much higher than in others. In those cases, using improper manual handling techniques to carry around an object can result in injuries and accidents. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), manual handling injuries are the most common type of injury in the workplace in the UK, accounting for around a third of all workplace injuries. Therefore, it is evident that improper manual handling can harm a healthy work environment as it causes unwanted injuries and accidents. In this blog, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to manual handling and explain the key points related to manual handling.

What is manual handling?

Manual handling is moving or lifting an object or load by hand or a physical force, one of the most common tasks in many workplaces. Although manual handling is necessary for many jobs, it can pose a significant risk to health and safety if not carried out correctly. If not done correctly, manual handling can cause minor, major, and musculoskeletal injuries and, in some cases, even casualties. Therefore, knowing good manual handling practices while moving or lifting objects is important. Here is an example of some workplaces that might require manual handling practices in their daily job:

  • Warehouses and distribution centers
  • Construction sites
  • Factories and manufacturing plants
  • Retail stores and supermarkets
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • Offices
  • Transportation and logistics companies

Legal Requirements

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 is a health and safety legislation that addresses employers to implement best practices for manual handling to manage workplace risks related to manual handling or moving objects. Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, employers are subjected to:

  • Avoid the need for tasks involving manual handling or manual force. An employer can substitute the task or provide proper machines or equipment to help with the moving or lifting process to minimize the associated risk.
  • Assessing the risk is the prime responsibility of an employer. An employer should frequently carry out an effective manual handling risk assessment to help analyse and identify the risks that are present in the workplace regarding manual handling.
  • An employer is also obliged to reduce the threats present in the workplace related to manual handling. They can do so by identifying the threat by conducting a risk assessment and taking appropriate steps to mitigate these risks. Doing so would allow the employer to provide its staff with a safe and healthy work environment.

What Does ‘So Far as is Reasonably Practicable’ Mean?

The term ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ is important to understand when meeting your health and safety legal duties. This term is based on the idea that an employer can’t eliminate all the risks present in the workplace. However, employers are expected to do as much as possible by implementing good health and safety policies and removing threats in a practical and common-sense manner.

In a workplace, such as a warehouse, it is not possible to eliminate all the risks involving manual handling. As manual handling is an everyday activity in the workplace. It’s not like the employer can remove the need for manual handling and eliminate all the risks, as it is not a reasonable proposition. A warehouse would not be able to function appropriately without manual handling practices.

Employers can only ensure that they work practically to ensure these tasks are made as safe as possible.

Safety measures

Ensuring the safety and well-being of employees is one of the most critical responsibilities of any employer. This is particularly true regarding manual handling safety in the workplace, as manual handling tasks can pose a significant risk to employees’ health and safety. Here are some of the safety measures that an employer can implement in their workplace to reduce risks related to manual handling:

• Avoiding manual handling tasks

Employers should assess the workplace to determine where manual handling can be eliminated and where it is necessary, the risks should be assessed and minimized. Although manual handling tasks cannot be eliminated from workplaces such as warehouses, the only measure an employer can take here is to reduce the tasks so they are done infrequently. Employers can also provide automation or redesign the workspace accordingly.

• Conducting risk assessment

Risk assessment plays an integral role in identifying the potential hazards and risks present in the workplace. The risk assessment should consider the load being lifted, the frequency and duration of the task, the workplace environment, and the individual carrying out the task. Based on this assessment, appropriate control measures can be implemented.

• Providing training

It is one of the main responsibilities of an employer to provide appropriate training to their staff. Educational courses like manual handling training are effective and easy ways to teach your employees the proper manual handling techniques to use while lifting or moving objects. This training should cover the correct lifting and carrying techniques, how to use lifting aids, and recognize and report any potential hazards.

• Suitable equipment

Employer should provide their staff with appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves or back braces, and suitable equipment, such as trolleys or hoists, to help them with the manual handling tasks. The equipment provided should be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it remains in good working condition.

Benefits of safety measures

Implementing safety measures in the workplace related to safe manual handling practices has numerous benefits. Here are some of the benefits that your firm can enjoy by implementing safety measures for manual handling practices:

• Reduced injury

With safe manual handling practices, the number of accidents and injuries in the workplace would significantly reduce. Employers can prevent major, minor, and musculoskeletal injuries by identifying and minimizing the threats associated with manual handling injuries. This can lead to a safer workplace and reduce the cost of lost productivity due to injuries.

• Increased productivity

Safety measures for manual handling can contribute to increased productivity. By providing your staff with lifting aids, training, and ergonomics workstations, employees can work more efficiently and effectively. This can result in increased output and quality of work.

• Improved morale

Implementing safety measures for manual handling can also improve employee morale. Employees who feel that their health and safety are valued are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their work. This can lead to a more positive workplace culture and reduce staff turnover.

• Legal compliance

You can ensure compliance with the law by implementing good health and safety policies in your workplace. It is an employer’s legal duty to provide its staff with the proper safety measures to ensure their safety and well-being.

• Reduced costs

Implementing safety measures for manual handling can help reduce unwanted costs for the firm from workplace accidents and injuries. Injuries come with a cost, such as medical expenses, compensational claims, and sometimes legal fines. Taking proactive measures against these can save your organization from unwanted costs. This can lead to significant cost savings in the long run.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this comprehensive guide to manual handling in the workplace provides valuable information on preventing injury and promoting a safe and healthy workplace. By implementing the safety measures outlined in this guide, employers can protect their employees from the risks associated with manual handling tasks. It is the responsibility of employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees, and by following the guidelines outlined in this guide, they can fulfill this duty. By reducing the risk of injury, improving productivity, and promoting a positive workplace culture, employers can create a safer and more productive workplace for their employees. It is important to prioritize the health and safety of employees, and by taking the necessary precautions, employers can achieve this goal.