Manual handling is a term that refers to a range of activities, including the pushing, pulling or carrying of a load. While it may seem simple to do, manual handling injuries are very common and account for over a third of all injuries that occur in UK workplaces.
It is important that anyone who regularly carries out lifting and handling operations does so safely in order to prevent injury and the loss of working days. To help with this, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002 (which we will refer to as the Manual Handling Operations Regulations) place several responsibilities on employers and employees while carrying out manual handling operations at work.
In this article, we will look at some of these requirements and the key takeaways of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.
Regulation 2 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations defines 'manual handling operations' and 'load', and outlines which risks or injuries are covered by these regulations:
Regulation 4(1) places a large number of responsibilities on employers.
Firstly, it requires them to avoid the need for employees to carry out manual handling tasks, as far as is reasonably practicable. This can be done in several ways, including redesigning the task to eliminate the need to move the load, or by moving the load using an automated or mechanical process.
If a manual handling operation cannot be avoided, then employers must carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessment in order to identify any hazards associated with the task. When assessing this risk, it is important to consider the task, the individual carrying it out, the load, and the working environment. For more information on these, click here to view our article on TILE, TILEO and LITE.
Once the risk assessment is complete, an employer must then take 'appropriate' steps to address the hazards identified, meaning that the measures they use must be practical and effective.
If you would like to learn more on how to do a risk assessment, our guide and free downloadable template can be accessed here.
Carrying out a risk assessment for a manual handling operation, and determining how to control these risks, can be complex. To help with this, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published some relevant guidance that can be viewed here.
Finally, this regulation requires employers to provide anyone who is completing a manual handling task with information on its weight and its heaviest side where appropriate and possible.
This regulation requires employers to keep any manual handling risk assessments up to date, and to review them if there is a major change in the task. For example, an assessment should be reviewed if there is an accident that occurred as a result of a manual handling operation in order to identify what caused it, and how it can be prevented in future.
Regulation 4(3) outlines what should be considered before an employee carries out a manual handling operation to reduce the risk of injury. Specifically, an employer should consider:
This regulation places several responsibilities on employees. Specifically, it requires them to:
At Commodious, we offer a manual handling training course that can help ensure that employees understand proper manual handling technique and avoid injury. It can be viewed using the link below: