If you’re in the construction or manufacturing industry, then you’ll be familiar with manual handling.
However, if you’re new to the world of construction or you’re just interested in learning about manual handling, then this post is for you.
Keep reading to learn more about manual handling, including the health and safety requirements of manual handling.
We’ll also include the best manual handling methods, which is sure to come in useful if you’re new to the industry or if you’re a construction employer.
What Is Manual Handling?
Manual handling is the act of lifting, carrying, lowering, filling, or emptying heavy loads - using your body as opposed to machinery.
The load can be still or moving - if you’re handling it using your body, then it’s classed as manual handling.
If you’re an employee in manufacturing or distribution systems, then you’ll probably be required to complete manual handling tasks, whether it be regularly or occasionally.
Manual handling is conducted in a wide range of methods - from bar staff moving crates and changing kegs and supermarket employees carrying heavy boxes while stacking shelves to construction workers lifting and moving heavy items.
This means that manual handling injuries can happen in pretty much any workplace. For example, hospitals, warehouses, offices, banks, laboratories, farms, and of course, building sites.
Most businesses will only require you to complete manual handling tasks when necessary for health and safety purposes.
Manual handling can cause injuries if employees are trained incorrectly, not trained at all, or don’t follow the correct health and safety procedures when lifting and carrying heavy items.
The majority of manual handling injuries aren’t caused by lifting or pulling heavy objects alone - they can be caused (and intensified) by repetitive movements, as well as the distance that the item is carried.
The height that the item is picked up from and put down can also have an impact on the severity of manual handling injuries.
Incorrect movements and actions when handling objects can also result in injury, which is why it’s so important that the correct procedures are followed and the relevant training is completed.
Any manual handling injuries that occur at work can have serious implications for the employee and the employer.
If health and safety protocol hasn’t been followed and the injury could’ve been prevented by the employer, then the employer may be liable for the injury and be sued.
The business reputation could be tarnished, and the business will have to cover wages and even the hiring of a new employee to cover for sick leave.
The employee injured may spend time in hospital, or need to take time off work to recover. The types of injuries commonly caused by manual handling can make it difficult to play sports, impacting their lifestyle as well as leisure activities.
What Are the Health and Safety Requirements?
Health and safety should be taken seriously in any workplace, but especially when manual handling is conducted.
In order to prevent injuries, it’s important that manual handling tasks are only completed when absolutely necessary and can’t be avoided.
However, in the instances where there’s no option but to handle loads, employers and employees have a responsibility to ensure that the task is completed safely.
When an employer appoints a lifting task, it’s important that they consider whether the individual is capable of doing so, while also considering the nature of the load.
It’s also important that the manager or employer considers the environment (e.g is it raining? It is too hot to lift heavy loads?) and to only appoint employees who have undergone the required manual handling training.
Employees required to lift objects should follow the correct protocol in order to minimise the risk of injury. For health and safety advice, click here.
First of all, try to reduce the amount of reaching, stooping, and twisting - and avoid lifting from above shoulder height or from the floor level - especially if the load is heavy.
If possible, adjust or rearrange storage areas to minimise the need to twist and bend down as much when lifting heavy loads. Take some time to assess the situation and consider how exactly you can minimise the movements needed to lift loads.
In addition, see if a colleague or manager can assist you with handling the load, or try breaking the task down into smaller components to reduce the risk of injury.