Employers are urged to scrap off-the-shelf safety practices – New web-based advice on manual handling
The Health and Safety Executive has launched new support for employers regarding manual handling, stressing that simplistic one-size-fits-all advice is unhelpful and companies need to use a more tailored approach to keep their workers safe.
Manual handling, relating to moving items by lifting, lowering, pushing or pulling, accounts for 22% of all non-fatal accidents in the workplace, according to the HSE. In the past, advice has been based on simplistic techniques such as bending at the knees when lifting, but the HSE has now launched a new web based advice tool which was developed with input from businesses, trade unions and safety organisations. The new advice is aimed at helping employers carry out risk assessments and develop their own safety methods depending on their own particular circumstances and environment.
HSE’s Health and Work Portfolio Manager Geoff Cox said: “Our research shows that simplistic training involving bending your knees to lift a cardboard box is just a waste of time and money, it just doesn’t make any difference. The overall aim is to avoid and reduce manual handling, and that’s where employers should start if their workforce faces manual handling risks. Don’t start with training, start with re-organising and redesigning your working practices. If you do need staff training, and there are many residual risks where this is the case, then this needs to be customised and professionally delivered. Any such training should be based on observations of current working practices, and should be informed by the views and experience of the workforce.”
In 2016/17, 507,000 workers reported suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders and 8.9 million working days lost as a result.
Anyone in any line of work can suffer from a manual handling accident but the industries most affected are construction, agriculture, forestry transportation and storage, and health work.
Fatima Bibi at Industrial Disease specialist Roberts Jackson, said:
“We see so many cases where a musculoskeletal disorder could have been prevented. It’s great that the HSE is putting the onus on employers to take a step back and think about their processes and environment, involving their employees in coming up with ways of lowering the amount of manual handling required and improving safety measures. The web advice is a great starting place for all companies, especially SME’s.”
Chief Executive Officer of the BSIF, Alan Murray: “It’s simple and straightforward – the web-based advice should set businesses in the right direction.” The full web-based advice can be viewed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/external-help.htm.