Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries. These include work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDS) such as pain and injuries to arms, legs and joints, and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts.
Manual handling includes lifting, carrying, putting down, pushing, pulling, moving or supporting a load by hand or using other bodily force. It is not just the weight of the load that can cause injury: the size, shape, available grip, the way you carry the load, where you have to carry it, and how often you have to do the task all play a part.
The Law: Manual handling – Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 set out a clear hierarchy of measures for dealing with risk likely to cause harm from manual handling.
• avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as reasonably practicable;
• assess any manual handling operations that cannot be avoided;
• reduce the risk of injury to as low as reasonably practicable.
Consider whether you have to move the load manually at all. If possible eliminate manual handling completely, for example:
If you cannot avoid manual handling, look at the risks from your handling operations. You do not have to look at every task in detail.
If you cannot eliminate the risk, look at how you can reduce it to an acceptable level, for example:
As you have seen, The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 apply to a wide range of manual handling 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.
It is the duty of the employer to correctly identify the risks and to inform the staff. The employer will also need to supply equipment where needed to lift heavy objects. The employee should follow safe lifting guidelines and also use equipment correctly.