Manual handling is one of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace. If carried out incorrectly, it can cause damage to the individual's back, otherwise known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). An example of this could be picking up something heavy without bending your knees to reach it, and failing to keep the load close to your body as you are carrying it. The result in mistakes like these has left in manual handling equating to over a third of all workplace injuries.
Injuries from manual handling can happen anywhere that people are at work; it isn't something restricted to certain industries. Whether you're on farms and building sites, in factories, offices, warehouses, hospitals, banks and laboratories, manual labour that entails awkward postures and repetitive actions are all risk factors in developing MSDs.
Manual handling management could not be more important in the workplace, which is why regulations need to be a top priority.
1. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) of 1992 are the primary set of rules out there that need to be followed. Businesses use them as a straight forward, standardised way of managing risks in the workplace. Wherever there are risks, the regulations apply.
The MHOR measures the risks from manual handling by creating a ranking system for employers to follow. These measures are:
- First: Avoid hazardous manual handling operations as much as is reasonably practicable
- Second: Assess any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided
- Third: Reduce the risk of injury as much as is reasonably practicable
The MHOR starts off with a brief guidance on the regulations, and then follows with a detailed coverage on how to carry out risk assessments. Additionally, the specialised appendix includes a risk filter to help readers identify the tasks to do without needing to trawl through a lengthy assessment.
2. Safe Use of Work Equipment 1998
Also known as the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), it is aimed at employers, and anyone else that may have responsibility for the safe use of work equipment, which is something that can be frequently used to avoid manual handling injuries occurring in the first place.
The regulations place duties on people and companies who own, operate, or have control over work equipment. It also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment.
3. Safe Use of Lifting Equipment 1998
This code of practice and guidance is for those that work with any equipment provided at work, those who employ such people, those that represent them and those people who act as a competent person in the examination of lifting equipment, also known as the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) – and works hand-in-hand with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
The guidance clarifies which equipment is subject to the provisions of the regulations and the role of the competent person as well as giving contextual examples to show why LOLER applies across every sector using lifting equipment.
Who do they Impact?
These guidelines are all aimed at employers, managers and safety representatives. Whoever is in a position of responsibility of the employees can be held accountable for injuries caused from manual handling. The regulations are there to help them avoid, assess and reduce the risk of injury from manual handling. It is for these important reasons that it means they need to make sure they are following the rules closely to ensure they keep a healthy and happy team.
The employees have duties too, as everyone has a part to play if accidents happen. They should:
- Follow systems of work in place for their safety
- Use equipment properly that is provided for their safety
- Cooperate with their employer on health and safety matters
- Inform their employer if they identify hazardous handling activities
- Take care to make sure their activities don't put others at risk