Handle loads with care, urges Norwich Union

Article date: 5 January 2009

As part of its latest Simply Safety campaign, Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva, is urging employers to be aware of the hazards associated with manual handling.

Statistics for 2007/2008 indicate that two fifths of minor injuries resulting in three or more days of absence were caused by handling, lifting or carrying.1

According to Phil Grace, liability risk manager for Norwich Union, injuries caused by manual handling can occur in any place of work.

Manual handling is one of the most commonly reported hazards by employees (43% of workers2) with injuries resulting in musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain, joint injuries and repetitive strain.  

"As musculoskeletal disorders are also the most common occupational illness in Great Britain3, it is vital that employers encourage early reporting of symptoms to make sure injuries, and also working hours lost for the business, are minimised," Grace says.

Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992, employers are required to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of hazardous manual handling operations.

"The first step to reducing risk is to consider whether manual handling can be avoided. Ask yourself whether objects really need to be moved.

"The next stage is to look at the working processes and assess the risk of injury from any manual handling that cannot be avoided. The assessment is the employer's responsibility but can be carried out with input from employees who will be aware of the risks.

"Assess whether there is perhaps an alternative to carrying loads over any distance, or if it is possible to avoid using strenuous force such as pushing or pulling items. The findings of all significant risks will need to be recorded. The assessment should identify the inadequately controlled features of the work and these are the ones that should be tackled first.

"To minimise hazardous manual handling, making use of handling aids and equipment, such as a hand-powered hoist can help.

"However, the best option is to always reduce the load size.  More often than not there will come a time when mechanical handling equipment is not available and workers will try to lift items themselves.

"Training plays an important role and should look at how injuries can occur, as well as covering the systems of work for the employee's tasks and environment."

Norwich Union Risk Services (NURS) offers a three-day course which covers the MHOR legislation and gives attendees the skills and confidence needed to pass manual handling training on to other employees, www.nurs.co.uk/. Alternatively, a one-day awareness course is available. NURS also has the expertise and capability to undertake your manual handling assessments on a consultancy basis.

A downloadable guide on the subject is also available at www.nurs.co.uk/.


For further information, please contact:
Alex Anderson at Staniforth or 0161 919 8021/07779 162583 or Sally Leeman at Norwich Union on 01603 684225/
07789 270677.

Notes to editors

1 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh0708.pdf (PDF 1,646Kb)

2 http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media

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