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What are the issues associated with manual handling?

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 workers1) with injuries resulting in musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain, joint injuries and repetitive strain.  

The first step to reducing the risk of an injury is to consider whether manual handling can be avoided. For example: Do 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.
Assess whether there is perhaps an alternative to carrying loads over any distance. Using mechanical aids will help, but more often than not there will come a time when mechanical handling equipment is not available and workers will try to lift items themselves. In this instance, workers should reduce the size of the load that they are lifting and should be encouraged to use handling aids and equipment, such as a hand-powered hoist. When moving equipment, advise employees against strenuous force such as pushing or pulling items.
However, the best option is for the employer to redesign the task or environment to minimise hazardous manual handling. A risk assessment should identify the inadequately controlled features of the work and these are the ones that should be tackled first.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992, state that employers are required to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of hazardous manual handling operations. Although the assessment is the employer’s responsibility, it can be carried out with input from employees who will be aware of the risks. The findings of all significant risks will need to be recorded
According to the Health and Safety Executive, in 2007/2008, two fifths of minor injuries resulting in three or more days of absence were caused by handling, lifting or carrying. It is therefore, vital that employers encourage early reporting of symptoms to make sure injuries, and also working hours lost for the business, are minimised, especially since musculoskeletal disorders are the most common occupational illness in Great Britain2
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.
Aviva Risk Management Solutions' three day course provides employers with the knowledge you need to comply with this legislation and gives attendees the skills and confidence needed to pass manual handling training to other employees in the organisation.

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