January 20, 2021
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With figures recently released by the HSE showing that handling, lifting or carrying accounted for 19% of all non-fatal injuries to employees in 2019/20 it is important that employers take steps to protect workers from risks associated with hazardous manual handling activities in the workplace.

With the busy run up to Christmas and January sales, there can be extra risks at this time of year especially in the haulage and distribution sectors. So what can you do?

The first step, where it is reasonably practicable is to avoid the need for hazardous manual handling activities. This may require redesigning a task to avoid having to move a load or automating or mechanising a process for example using a conveyor rather than carrying a load, this involve a certain amount of investment and time to achieve.

Where manual handling can’t be avoided the next step is to assess the risk, this will involve considering the task, individual, load, environment and any other factors. Factors may include posture e.g. cramped work spaces, weight, frequency of the task, floor surfaces, lighting levels etc. Consulting with the workforce will help to identify particular issues.

Once you have assessed the activity the next step is to take any necessary action to reduce risks examples could include splitting a large heavy load into smaller more manageable loads, providing handling or lifting aids, adapting the workplace e.g. by improving lighting etc.

Providing training can also help to reduce risk by raising awareness and instructing workers in good handling techniques. Training should cover topics such as manual handling risks, how to use handling aids and other relevant factors.

You should keep your assessments under review and regularly monitor activities to make sure workers understand and are following the correct procedures.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk management contact or get in touch using [email protected] if you have any questions about managing manual handling risks or would like to arrange a manual handling training session for your workforce.