Avoid Manual Handling

Author – Gina O’Connor

Complying with the regulations

Employers have to go through three main steps to comply with regulations. The first step is to avoid any manual handling at all if it is reasonably practicable.  Second, if manual handling can’t be avoided then assess the hazards. And third employers must reduce the risk of injury as far as is reasonably practicable. Now, that phrase reasonably practicable is important. It could mean the difference between being convicted of negligence or being found innocent. Reasonably practicable means an employer can show that the cost of further safety measures would massively outweigh the benefits. Another term you need to be aware of is suitable and sufficient. Employers’ assessment of manual handling risks must be suitable and sufficient or they risk prosecution or being sued for compensation. There are two tests of whether employers’ manual handling risk assessment is suitable and sufficient. The first is whether they’ve assessed every manual handling operation that their staff have to carry out. The second is whether employers have considered the physical suitability of the employee. So you need to bear in mind the employees’ age, experience, and medical history. Do they for instance have a history of back pain? The general rule though is whether the task can be performed by most reasonably fit and healthy employees. If it can’t, then, the risk is unacceptable. These tests of whether a risk assessment is suitable and sufficient mean the last-minute assessment is unlikely to be acceptable. Instead, the assessment needs to be carried out by consulting the employees themselves, so, you can benefit from their experience. After all, they do the job. The aim of the risk assessment is to identify the manual handling risks that employees are likely to meet and then decide on what handling aids can be used to avoid them.

Can you do it differently?

Where possible of course it’s best to eliminate the need for manual handling. The first priority is to prevent injury to employees and improve safety. But different working practices can also improve efficiency. For a start, you might ask if the load needs to be handled at all if the work was organised differently. For instance, in a care home setting, could you bring the treatment to the patient rather than moving the patient to the treatment? Or, for processes such as machining and wrapping could they be carried out on the spot so you don’t have to move the product. Then if you come to the conclusion that the load does have to be moved you can consider automation or mechanisation. But, if you do go down the automation or mechanization route there are a couple of drawbacks to be considered. One is that automation and mechanisation can bring in different risks that require precautions. The other is that it’s best to decide on mechanisation and automation right at the beginning when the plant or the system of work is being designed. For example, you can plan the layout of the plant so that you can reduce the distance in which materials have to be transported or you can cut out the need to handle sacks completely by designing the plant so that products are transferred directly from large containers

Avoiding manual handling

Through looking at your existing activities you can find opportunities to avoid manual handling altogether this will not only improve your health and safety record but often improve efficiency and productivity and cut down the damage to loads. But sometimes manual handling can’t be avoided. So, it’s important to train employees so that they can work. This is where the regulations come in. That is, staff must be fully aware and trained in the safe systems of work that have been established to ensure their safety. It’s important to remember effective training should reinforce safe systems of work and not replace them.

Conclusion

So, we have seen that manual handling operations are our major cause of industrial accidents and ill health. The obligations are on both the employers and the employees to ensure manual handling operations are as safe as possible. Where possible employers should avoid manual handling altogether as long as it’s reasonably practicable. If they can’t then they need to assess the risks and reduce the risk as far as is reasonably practical. And staff should be trained in effective and safe systems of work.

About the author: Gina has a wealth of training experience and operations management acumen accrued during a career spanning over 25 years in roles such as administration, customer service management, and training in the heavily regulated aviation industry. She believes that learning should not be a ‘tick the box’ exercise for people. She is experienced in knowing the importance of ensuring companies become & remain compliant in accordance with national legislation as well as industry best practice.
She can identify with other small businesses as she is a local independent operator, who wants to look after local businesses also. She understands the challenges of keeping compliant while trying to operate a business. With her aviation background, she understands CRM and change management and the importance of training to bring about that effect.
As a member of the Irish Institute of Training and Development and NISO, Gina believes in keeping in line with best practices and the latest developments in the training sector.

What is Manual Handling?

This article looks at what manual handling is and the risks it exposes.

Author – Gina O’Connor

Manual handling covers a wide range of activities from lifting and lowering to pushing and pulling. The nature of the load itself doesn’t matter it could be a person or an animal or a sack or a box if you have to use your muscles then it’s manual handling and well, you’re in danger. Manual handling or to be correct incorrect manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work. It causes fatigue and injuries to the back neck shoulders arms and other body parts

There are two main types of injury that result from poor manual handling the first are the cuts bruises that you might get if there is a sudden unexpected event like an accident if you dropped what you were trying to carry for instance.

But the most likely type of injury is the one that creeps up on you over a longer period of time. Gradually damaging your body’s musculoskeletal system. That’s the muscles, tendons, ligaments bones,  blood vessels, and nerves that make your body work. These injuries are called musculoskeletal disorders. They can be divided into three groups: neck and upper limb disorders lower limb disorders and back pain and back injuries. Back pain and back injuries are the most common musculoskeletal disorders caused by poor manual handling and there are significant and increasing problems right across Europe. About 25% of European workers say they suffer from back pain brought on by their work. It tops the list of all work-related disorders with people working in agriculture, construction, and transport, communicating the highest instance of reporting

Possible consequences of incorrect manual handling.

You might think that a bad back is one of those things but chronic back pain is crippling and can affect every aspect of your life. Lower back disorders can have serious consequences. They may restrict what you can do in both work and leisure for the rest of your life.

It’s important to acknowledge that some jobs and industries are more at risk than others so special care needs to be taken. The construction industry, for example, has a far higher rate of back disorder than average occupations. Where you need to take special care such as health professionals particularly in hospitals skilled trades especially in construction and building and service occupations that provide personal care. Similarly, some people naturally have to take more care. New and expectant mothers and older workers should be particularly careful. Anyone returning to work after an illness, or a new starter, or anyone unfamiliar with the tasks can be at risk. Many of these groups might try to manually handle something in an inappropriate way and risk serious injury or pain. You also have to take into account your own size and physical condition. Manual handling is not a competition, so if a load is too large or unwieldy don’t risk injury by trying to handle it alone

Basic Anatomy

Understanding basic anatomy as a starting point for basic back disorders is really quite straightforward. The back has four natural curves, the muscles and joints in the back receive the least strain in an upright posture that maintains the natural curves. If you can maintain these natural curves while manual handling you can minimise the risk of damaging your body. It may look funny but one way of ensuring you keep these natural curves is to stick your bottom out. If you’ve ever seen professional weight lifters on the TV, you’ll see them do this. It’s because the bottom has the biggest muscle in the body, the gluteus maximus so when you’re sticking out your bottom you’re effectively setting out a counterbalance. You can then keep your back still and use your legs to lift or lower the load. Another safe manual handling technique is to keep the load you’re handling as close to your body as possible and to avoid twisting, turning, or bending your back. Don’t let it become a pain in the neck.

Conclusion

So manual handling is anything you do to move an object without the aid of machinery or equipment.

It’s the most common cause of injury at work with your back in particular most at-risk. Chronic pain and back disorders can seriously restrict your work and leisure activities for the rest of your life.

To minimise the risks, remember to keep your back in its natural position while manually handling a load and try to take the strain with your legs like a weightlifter most important of all don’t tackle any load that is too heavy or unwieldy. For a free trial of our training click here.

HSA Frequently Asked Questions

#manualhandling #safetytraining

About the author: Gina has a wealth of training experience and operations management acumen accrued during a career spanning over 25 years in roles such as administration, customer service management, and training in the heavily regulated aviation industry. She believes that learning should not be a ‘tick the box’ exercise for people. She is experienced in knowing the importance of ensuring companies become & remain compliant in accordance with national legislation as well as industry best practice.
She can identify with other small businesses as she is a local independent operator, who wants to look after local businesses also. She understands the challenges of keeping compliant while trying to operate a business. With her aviation background, she understands CRM and change management and the importance of training to bring about that effect.
As a member of the Irish Institute of Training and Development and NISO, Gina believes in keeping in line with best practices and the latest developments in the training sector.

Why Train?

Training why should we have to have it?
Author: Gina O’Connor

For some businesses, all they hear is you’ve got to be trained on this you’ve got to be trained on that, and it becomes a never-ending cycle. It causes interruptions to the operation. You’re losing people, meaning that you have to bring in somebody else to cover that person while they’re training. It’s costing money and when you think about it that way it does cost you money and lost working hours. And at the end of it all what is the point? The staff will come back and just carry on as normal and there’s no change in how we do things. Waste of time. Waste of money.
Of course, there’s one aspect that we can’t escape and that’s the law. There are so many functions that employers and employees must be trained on. Why? Because the law says so and failure to comply can and does have repercussions. Whether we like it or not the law is there to ensure both employers and employees live up to their obligations in the workplace. The primary concern of the law is safety. Everybody should be able to leave work and go home the same way they came in. With or without the law this should be every conscientious employer’s main concern – their people.
But let’s leave the law out of it for now. Let’s assume for now most people are aware of what the law requires us to do. So, let’s look at training another way and what can it achieve. Good training gets people to learn. You might ask what’s the difference? Well, here’s my take on that. Training just like the traditional classroom setting got us to remember things like a list and I’ll ask anyone that had this experience what really happened apart from being able to list things off? When people learn it becomes a part of them. Whether the learners develop a skill that they can demonstrate or improve their customer service skills, learning should be about solving a problem. Of course, this means different things to different people.
One of the basic questions people should ask is why do we need the training? Looking deeper into that question, what’s the problem that needs to be looked and what kind of an impact are you looking for? The needs of your business need to be brought down to the outcome you need to achieve in learning and basically ask what change in knowledge or skills do you need to see to have an impact on solving this problem. Another question you would need to ask is who is this for? In other words who’s your audience? If they’re your employees for example you need to look at where they are now and where you need to get them to. In other words, find out what the learning gap is. It’s also important to bear in mind what your employees’ perception of training is and why. Do they love it, do they hate it? There can be a variety of reasons for these perceptions. Did they feel supported during and after the learning process in the past?
If you as an employer need to change things around in your business (and there has been plenty of that recently), how do you get your people to change with the business? Do you just tell them changes are being made and expect them to just go with the flow? How is that working for you? Did it take you long to make the changes you needed to make? Was there much resistance? For me, training is like having a meaningful conversation. You think about what you need to achieve. You outline the reasons for the need to change and decide how it’s going to take to effect. Remember, a conversation is a two-way street, just like good training. Asking questions like what are the important areas (or topics) will you need to cover to achieve this change? Another question that needs to be considered is, HOW? How will you do this, in the classroom or online? How much? How long will it really take? These are all questions you need to think about.
One thing I’m certain of is, it won’t matter. It won’t matter if you don’t follow up after the training delivery. I’m sorry to burst your bubble but, if you don’t support your people after the training to reinforce the learning then you have just wasted a lot of money. No return on your investment. Training is for a day, a week, or however long it takes for the material to be delivered. Learning on the other hand is about practicing that learning until it switches to auto-pilot. Let me ask you, does a musician learn a chord and then say ok, I’ve got it now? No, they practice that chord until they don’t have to think about how they place their fingers on the strings. They also have support from their tutor or mentor. It is no different in any workplace. Miracles don’t happen after a day’s training but significant improvements can be made to improve on the knowledge skills and attitude with encouragement and the employee made to feel they have back up while they make the transition. This support is what brings loyalty and belief that they feel invested in and that you want them to succeed.
As an employer ask yourself these questions:
WHY – are you doing this? Figure out the reason
WHO – is it for? Are you filling a gap to meet an objective?
HOW – will you do this?
About the author: Gina has a wealth of training experience and operations management acumen accrued during a career spanning over 25 years in roles such as administration, customer service management, and training in the heavily regulated aviation industry. She believes that learning should not be a ‘tick the box’ exercise for people. She is experienced in knowing the importance of ensuring companies become & remain compliant in accordance with national legislation as well as industry best practice.
She can identify with other small businesses as she is a local independent operator, who wants to look after local businesses also. She understands the challenges of keeping compliant while trying to operate a business. With her aviation background, she understands CRM and change management and the importance of training to bring about that effect.
As a member of the Irish Institute of Training and Development and NISO, Gina believes in keeping in line with best practices and the latest developments in the training sector.

Workplace Fatalities Increased by 13% in 2020

HSA publishes its Annual Review of Workplace Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities

The HSA published its Annual Review today and out of the 53 work-related fatalities last year just under 53% were self-employed. That’s a total of 28 people. That’s more than half of the people that lost their lives. 12 people who were employees and 13 non-workers also paid the ultimate price.

Of the people who died last year, 18 of those were working in agriculture, forestry & fishing, 7 were in construction, 2 in wholesale & retail with 1 in accommodation
& food service.

300,000 people are self-employed in Ireland and most of them work alone but still must be trained on all aspects of safety that are relevant for their job. They have to juggle everything from doing the job to running the business itself and because of that even though they consider health & safety important, it may not seem as urgent. Self-employed people ultimately have the most to lose if they end up in an incident or develop a serious illness.

In 2020, the most common causes of fatal accidents were the loss of control of means of transport (16 people), fall from height (7 people), fall of an object from above (6 people), and entering a dangerous area (6 people).

The CEO of the HSA, Dr. Sharon McGuinnes said, “Unfortunately, we have seen work-related fatalities happening to victims from all age groups. Of the 13 non-workers to die in work-related fatalities in 2020, five were aged under 18 years old. This drives home the need for appropriate procedures to be put in place to protect everyone in the workplace be they employees, customers, or visitors. Proper risk assessments and health & safety considerations must be implemented in all workplaces to ensure everyone’s safety. No job is worth loss of life, injury, or illness.”

For more information on the 2020 HSA Review please click here