A manual handling task is one that involves any element of lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, supporting or carrying a load by hand or bodily force.
Any injury caused by manual handling can have serious implications for both employer and the affected employee.
Manual handling injuries can occur almost anywhere in the workplace. Heavy loads, awkward postures, repetitive movements of arms, legs and back and a previous or existing injury can all increase risk.
What is a manual handling risk assessment?
It is part of your duty of care to your employees. You must carry out an assessment of your work process and environment. It allows you to identify and address the risks of injury to your staff.
As well as the general requirements, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations also require you to carry out risk assessments on manual handling tasks.
The regulation defines manual handling as, “any transporting or supporting of a load (including lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.”
With this type of risk assessment, you must take steps to avoid manual handling so far as is reasonably practicable.
This includes the provision of mechanical aids to remove or reduce the need for manual handling or a redesign of the work process to avoid the need for it.
Where it’s not possible to avoid handling a load, consider a risk assessment for manual handling and put sensible health & safety measures in place to prevent and avoid injury.
Where you can’t avoid manual handling, you should assess the task and put sensible measures in place to prevent injury.
Who is responsible for manual handling risk assessments?
In the UK, you, the employer, are responsible for risk assessments in the workplace.
While you’re primarily responsible for the health, safety and well-being of your staff, you can assign a competent person whose responsibility it is to carry out regular reviews.
This person will also help determine the effectiveness of existing risk control measures and suggest where new safety measures where needed.
How is manual handling risk assessment carried out?
The aim of this assessment is to identify the risks presented in manual handling tasks and implement control measures to avoid injuries.
During the process, you’ll need to consider four main areas including:
- Task: You’ll need to assess the risks involved with each manual handling task. Does it involve any twisting, stooping, bending, pushing, pulling or team handling?
- Individual: Consider the physical capabilities of staff members carrying out manual handling activities. Remember to make special considerations for employees with known injuries or disabilities. You may also require separate assessments for pregnant employees and younger workers.
- Load: Provide information regarding the weight, temperature, movability, grasp capacity and more.
- Environment: Assess the environment where manual handling will be taking place as it can play an important role in making tasks more dangerous. Consider uneven or slippery flooring, lighting and ventilation.
After the assessment, you can take steps to reduce the risks identified by:
- Implementing the use of lifting aids: hoists, forklift trucks, conveyors, load balancing devices, etc.
- Redesigning work or work processes to eliminate the risk of carrying loads over long distances.
- Ensuring work processes do not require twisting, reaching or stooping.
- Eliminating the need to lift heavy loads from floor level to above shoulder height.
- Assessing the weight of loads that require carrying and if employees can move it safely.
- Dividing loads into smaller, manageable components.
- Ensuring that the paths of those doing any manual handling are void of obstructions.
- Training employees in the best practices for moving loads and providing them with the appropriate clothing necessary to carry out manual handling activities.
Manual handling risk assessment examples
Check out the HSE’s manual risk assessment examples as it’ll serve as a guide when carrying out your own assessment.
With their manual handling assessment charts (MAC tool), you can easily identify high-risk workplace manual handling activities. You can also use it to assess the risks presented by lifting, carrying, pulling and other manual handling activities.
You can also download our manual handling risk assessment template for free. It’s a basic template for manual handling and includes general considerations for risk factors.
Unsure of how to carry out risk assessments? Do you require health and safety training for your staff?
We offer practical manual handling training to keep your workers safe whatever job they may be doing. Speak to a Croner expert today for comprehensive advice on 01455 858 132.
Manual handling template
Download our manual handling risk assessment template for free.
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