Manual Handling refers to a range of activities, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying. The load may be either animate, such as a person or an animal, or inanimate, such as a box or a trolley.
Incorrect manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work. It causes work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which account for over a third of all workplace injuries.
In order to reduce work related injuries, employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment and to ensure employees are aware of potential risks.
In return, Employees have a duty to:
An employer needs to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether we are doing enough to prevent harm. This process is known as a risk assessment and it is something businesses are required by law to carry out. A risk assessment is about identifying and taking sensible and proportionate measures to control the risks in your workplace.
For all tasks that require an element of manual handling an employer and/or employee should consider and take into account the following:
If you then need to carry out a form of manual handling, ensure the following:
A manual handling risk assessment is required where you cannot avoid a manual handling task and there is a potential risk of injury. The assessment looks at the Task, Individual, Load and Environment. Each of these factors should be considered in the assessment. The following list is intended to assist you in considering the risk of injury from manual handling operations. It should assist you in assessing the elements of the operation and assist in deciding suitable controls.
The tasks - do they involve:
The loads - are they:
Ways of reducing the risk of injury Can you:
Can you make the load:
The working environment, are there:
Individual capacity, does the job:
Handling aids and equipment:
Work organisation factors:
Adopt a stable position - The feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load, if it is on the ground). The worker should be prepared to move their feet during the lift to maintain their stability. Avoid tight clothing or unsuitable footwear, which may make this difficult.
Get a good hold - Where possible, the load should be hugged as close as possible to the body. This may be better than gripping it tightly with hands only.
Start in a good posture - At the start of the lift, slight bending of the back, hips and knees is preferable to fully flexing the back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees (squatting).
Don't flex the back any further while lifting - This can happen if the legs begin to straighten before starting to raise the load.
Keep the load close to the waist - Keep the load close to the body for as long as possible while lifting. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body. If a close approach to the load is not possible, try to slide it towards the body before attempting to lift it.
Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways - Especially while the back is bent. Shoulders should be kept level and facing in the same direction as the hips. Turning by moving the feet is better than twisting and lifting at the same time.
Keep the head up when handling - Look ahead, not down at the load, once it has been held securely.
Move smoothly - The load should not be jerked or snatched as this can make it harder to keep control and can increase the risk of injury.
Don't lift or handle more than can be easily managed - There is a difference between what people can lift and what they can safely lift. If in doubt, seek advice or get help.
Put down, then adjust - If precise positioning of the load is necessary, put it down first, then slide it into the desired position.
The Independent General Practice