Power to the people - Taking the strain out of manual handling

Safe Manual Handling Procedures

Taking the strain out of manual handling.

It’s estimated that musculoskeletal problems still account for more than a quarter of all sick days despite the fact that most are easily preventable.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, employers have a duty to ensure there are effective arrangements in place to plan, organise, control, monitor and review preventative and protective measures against significant risks. In addition, The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require risks from manual handling to be eliminated or minimised wherever possible.

In any workplace where manual handling tasks are performed, a risk assessment should be carried out. Firstly any previous injuries should be considered before focussing on all tasks that include heavy objects, awkward loads, strenuous pulling or pushing, overreaching, awkward postures, lifting above shoulder height and carrying heavy items long distances.

It’s important to determine what factors lead to the risk and consider all potential injuries, then look at what safeguards could be introduced for each issue. Often this will include introducing mechanical solutions such as trolleys, pneumatic systems, lifting tables or work positioners that are easily manoeuvrable, and can support various weights at different heights.

Plus, nowadays there is an endless range of powered equipment which use electric motors to pull, push and steer wheeled loads weighing up to several tonnes. These require hardly any effort from the operator so anyone can manoeuvre substantial loads around confined spaces by simply flicking a switch.

Although these machines come at a price, in most cases they can exert the force of several people which means they immediately free up employees to work on other tasks. As a result of the amount of labour time they create, they usually pay for themselves in a matter of months.

Most work in all types of premises from hospitals to warehouses and shops through to factories, and for larger premises some models even offer a ride-on platform. Other key features include built-in rechargeable batteries, accelerator systems that can be regulated to specific limits and some models can be adapted to work with trolleys, carts and pallet systems.