Safe Manual Handling

Compliplus Manual HandlingManual handling injuries are one of the most common type of non-fatal injuries in the workplace in Ireland according to the Health & Safety Authority. And of those injuries, the back and spine are by far the most afflicted parts of the body. So, in order to protect yourself, comprehensive training is vital to ensure you don’t become another one of the statistics.

 

Manual Handling involves any moving or supporting of any load by one or more employees. This includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load. By virtue of the fact that you are lifting a load there may be adverse ergonomic conditions which may increase the risk of injury. In almost every workplace environment, manual handling is part of our daily lives.

 

The Irish legislation covering manual handling in the workplace in the main is within the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. This legislation, referred to as the Manual Handling of Loads Regulations 2007, outlines the duties of the employer including the requirement to avoid manual handling where possible, to carry out manual handling risk assessments and to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries to employees by implementing appropriate controls.

 

Many of the problems that cause back pain are the result of injury and damage to a disc. Bending over results in pressure on the discs, and may also cause a disc to bulge backward towards the spine. Twisting and bending together puts the greatest stress on the spine, especially on the discs, and are examples of work conditions that increase the risk of back injury.

 

Before you lift anything, it is a good idea to assess the situation and consider the following:

  • Where possible, use mechanical handling methods instead of manual handling, e.g. forklifts or pallet trucks, etc.
  • Know your capabilities; do not lift more than you can handle.
  • Can you handle the load yourself, or do you need assistance from a co-worker?
  • Make sure you have a clear walkway and good lighting
  • Where possible, establish the weight of the load before lifting.
  • Wear gloves to protect against cuts and punctures.
  • Wear safety boots or shoes to protect from falling loads.
  • Carry out a trial lift by rocking the load from side to side then try lifting it in a small amount to get a ‘feel’ for it.

It is important to have a good handling technique and the following can help you complete your task in a safe manner.

  • Stand reasonably close to the load, feet hip-width apart, one foot slightly forward pointing in the direction you’re going.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Get a secure grip on the load.
  • Breathe in before lifting as this helps to support the spine.
  • Use a good lifting technique, keep your back straight and lift using your legs.
  • Keep the load close to your body.
  • Don’t carry a load that obscures your vision.
  • Lift slowly and smoothly.
  • Avoid jerky movements.
  • Avoid twisting your body when lifting or carrying a load.
  • When lifting to a height from the floor, do it in two stages.
  • When two or more people lift a load, one person must take control to co-ordinate the lift.

Our online Manual Handling Training Course can assist with training employees in the correct assessment and completion of a manual handling task. It is followed up with a practical assessment to ensure that the delegate fully understands the subject.