The problem with the growth of a regulatory culture is that we often throw the baby out with the bath water by lazily dismissing regulations as ‘red tape’ or ‘ bureaucratic interference’. However the importance of understanding and implementing the Manual Handling Regulations 1992 (MHOR) is critical for employers and employees alike.
‘….any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.’
So it can be taken that MHOR affects every organisation from picking up the box of paper for the photocopier to moving a 3 tonne load around a warehouse. That means that virtually every employer needs to know about manual handling and how to address it.
The Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are really good at interpreting the regulations and making them simple to understand and put into practice. So take a look at their site https://www.rospa.com/ when you get a chance. Or take a look at the regulations themselves.
Step 1. The regulations say that, as far as is reasonably practicable, avoid the need for employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of being injured.
Step 2. Conduct a risk assessment for the Manual handling operations that cannot be avoided.
Step 3. As far as it is reasonably practicable, take action to reduce the risk of injury.
Now it is easy for over-zealous health and safety officers to bring the workplace to a standstill by insisting that the organisation conducts a risk assessment for picking up a biro. Conversely, an over-confident operations manager may feel that ‘reasonably practicable’ means that all operatives should ‘shape-up’ as it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to spend all day lifting and moving 20Kg loads without the need for the correct training or equipment to do the job.
We like the TILEO acronym adopted and recommended by RoSPA. This stands for Task, Individual, Load, Environment and Other Factors. We think this simple approach is a common sense way to approach both general and dynamic manual handling risk assessments in the workplace.
Here’s how it works:
Task. What is the job to be done? Take a look at every task which involves transporting a load from a static position.
Individual. Who is moving the load? This does not mean discriminating, but positively recognising that some people are more physically capable of carrying out simple manual handling tasks than others. This is particularly important when considering The Disability Discrimination Act 2010 (DDA).
Load. Look at the weight and dimensions of the load. Weight is critically important, but over-stretching to accommodate an over-sized load should be considered as well.
Environment. Carrying a 15KG box over a ploughed field is different to carrying it across an office floor. Indoor and outdoor manual handling present different challenges and these environments should be addressed independently.
Other Factors. How repetitive is the task? What is the distance of travel? These are the kind of questions that should be asked when undertaking manual handling risk assessments.
Now that you have completed your risk assessments, you then need to take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury to people undertaking manual handling tasks in the workplace.
These steps will include:
If you take the view that The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 can make a positive contribution to your workplace, then you will see great benefits in reduced workplace injuries and improved employee productivity. By not properly addressing the regulations, your organisation will be liable to prosecution from the Health and Safety Executive and you may be putting your employee’s health at risk.