Manual Handling on the Move

Jonathan Gough of Cardinus Risk Management explains why you should make sure your mobile workforce is protected when lifting and carrying.

The very nature of work undertaken by agile, mobile workers means that they are often overlooked when it comes to manual handling risk assessments and training. Out of sight out of mind is a phrase that springs to mind. But the nature of their work means they are often more likely to need the training than many office-based staff.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 came into force on 1 January 1993. They supplement the general duties on employers by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992.

These regulations require employers to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees while at work. The manual handling regulations put a duty on employers to assess possible risks associated with manual handling, and to reduce any risks that they find.

A significant number of injuries and accidents reported to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) each year are associated with manual handling, most resulting in lower back injuries. These are common among occupational groups in which repeated and prolonged strain is put on the spine. More than 8.3 million working days were lost in 2012/13 as a result of musculoskeletal disorders associated with manual handling.

Although some manual handling injuries are due to a single incident, many are cumulative and result from carrying out the same activities repeatedly, with poor posture. Agile workers are especially at risk as they frequently adopt postures that place prolonged strain on the spine. They then rapidly move from a static posture into an active one without allowing time for the body to warm up. Sitting in a car for a long time and then getting a load out of the boot is a perfect example.

It is not just the back that may be injured. Other muscle groups and joints such as shoulders, arms and legs, are involved in manual handling and may be damaged by bad lifting techniques.

Feet can also be damaged by loads being dropped on them. You can decrease the risk of injuries by thinking about how you handle things, and using efficient and comfortable working postures during the handling activity.

For the full article, including how to perform a risk assessment, please click here...