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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 blog 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.


Why is Manual Handling Training Important?

It is important that all employers are aware of the correct ways to handle heavy loads to ensure that they don't harm themselves or others around them. As discussed before, poor manual handling can result in injuries, which is why it is important that everyone knows how to carry things correctly.

Here are some of the many reasons why manual handling training is important:

  • It prevents injuries
  • It increases productivity
  • Improves employee wellbeing
  • It can save you money
  • Promotes employee wellbeing

But, what happens if you aren't trained in manual handling? Keep reading to find out.


What Happens if You Aren't Trained in Manual Handling?

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 at which the item is picked up and put down can also have an impact on the severity of manual handling incidents.

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 accidents 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's reputation could be tarnished, and the business will have to cover wages and even the hiring of a  anew employee to cover 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 risks of Poor Manual Handling?

Manual handling is required in most workplaces, especially industries such as construction where heavy loads need to be carried from place to the other. There are many risks of poor manual handling including short-term injuries and Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).


Short Term Injuries

Injuries such as cuts, sprains, bruises or muscle sprains. These injuries can be caused by sudden or small accidents, such as dropping a heavy load, losing grip or falling whilst carrying a load.

Although some of these injuries may heal in a small amount of time, they may also cause disruption to their work as they may not be able to carry heavy loads for a certain amount of time.


Musculoskeletal disorders

This term is used to describe different types of aches and pains that can be caused by incorrect manual handling. They are catorgorised into three types, such as upper and lower limb disorders and back pain.

They mainly involve damage to different parts of the body, including:

  • Muscles
  • Bones
  • Tendons
  • Joints
  • Ligaments

Most work-related musculoskeletal disorders are caused by poor, incorrect manual handling techniques, which can have a negative effect on the body overtime.


What Are the Health and Safety Requirements?

Health and safety should be taken seriously in any workplace, especially when manual handling is conducted. In order to prevent workplace injuries, it’s important that manual handling activities 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. 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. It's always recommended that you gain the relevant accreditation such as CHAS or complete online training to ensure you're doing everything correctly.