September Inspection Campaign Focusses on Manual Handling

August 25, 2023
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The HSE have announced that their construction site inspection campaign due to start in early September will focus on moving and handling construction materials.

It is estimated that around 42,000 construction workers suffer work related musculoskeletal disorders, a rate of 1970 per 100,00 workers, this compares to a rate of 1100 per 100,00 for all workplaces. Musculoskeletal disorders include neck and back pain and aches and pains in the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, as well as joint problems in the legs and feet.

Employers are required to put in place measures to deal with risk from manual handling. Priority should be given to avoiding hazardous manual handling where possible and where it can’t be avoided assessing the risks and taking action to reduce the risk to as low as possible.

When assessing risks factors to consider include:

  • The task e.g. does it include repetitive handling, twisting, stooping or reaching, carrying items long distances etc?
  • The load e.g. is it heavy, difficult to grasp, unstable etc?
  • The environment e.g. are there posture restriction, extremes of temperature or weather etc?
  • Any handling aids provided e.g. are they suitable, maintained in good condition etc?
  • And factors specific to the individuals carrying out the work e.g. does the work require above average strength, do individuals have specific health issues that need to be taken into account etc?

Some measures that could be used to manage risks can include:

  • Using machines e.g. telehandlers to position loads as close as practical to where they will be used;
  • Where they are available choosing lighter materials that meet the design specification;
  • Keeping materials dry;
  • Ordering smaller bags of bulk materials e.g. cements and aggregates;
  • Using mechanical handling aids such as trolleys, lifters etc to part mechanise tasks and keeping them in good condition;
  • Training workers to lift safely and providing them with information about the long term health risks when moving and handling materials;
  • Reducing carrying distances and organising layout to improve efficiency and minimise stooping and twisting;
  • Ensuring workers are able to take regular breaks from handling activities.

A selection of guidance is available on the WorkRight campaign website.

If you have any questions or would like support with managing issues at your workplace, please speak to your usual contact or get in touch using the form below.