Avoid Injury with Correct Manual Handling Practices

As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees are protected from harm or injury caused by manual handling tasks in 

Warehouse workers lifting boxes the workplace.

With many reporting musculoskeletal disorders, these types of injuries can cause lasting damage which will not only affect your employee’s long-te

rm health and ability to work, but potentially your business too.

It is therefore vital to have a thorough understanding of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of such injury. 

Associated Risks of Poor Moving & Handling

Manual handling is any transporting or supporting of a load by one or more workers. It includes activities such as lifting, holding, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying, or moving a load. These loads can be animate (people or animals) or inanimate (boxes, tools).

Occurring in almost all working environments there are a number of health effects. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2015/2016, there were 30.4 million working days lost to work-related illness and workplace injury. More specifically we saw 621,000 injuries occur at work with an estimated £14.1 billion cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions.

Manual Handling – What the Law Requires

With more than a third of all reported workplace injuries associated with manual handling, it is important you ensure you comply with the correct requirements.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require employers to:

  • Avoid the need for hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling that can’t be avoided
  • Reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable

As required by law these apply in all situations including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, and carrying in environments from construction and warehousing to banks and offices. 

Prevention Measures

The negative health effects of manual handling can be prevented by eliminating the risk factors involved for your employees. Adequate manual handling training will allow staff to assess situations and carry out day to day tasks safely and thus adhere to relevant health and safety guidelines.

•    Elimination – If necessary, the workplace can be reorganised in such a way that manual handling can be avoided entirely or restricted considerably. Using powered or mechanical handling equipment such as forklift trucks can help you achieve this.

•    Organise Inventory – Avoid lifting heavier objects from the floor or very low shelving as you are more likely to risk injury. It is advisable that you store heavier items in the middle as it is both easier and safer to grip and lift from waist height.

•    Is There a Better Way? – Ask yourself whether the task at hand is difficult. If so, it is likely to present a higher  risk of harm to an employee. Therefore it is time to look for a better way to  complete said task.

Correct Handling Techniques

It is important that every member of staff is given the correct training to ensure the elimination of injury. The approved manual handling lifting techniques should be used on a daily basis to help keep your employees safe and balanced.

Lifting

  • Prepare the area around you so that it is clear of obstacles and any doors are open.
  • If you are lifting with someone else, ensure you both know what you are doing.
  • You should adopt the following technique when lifting a load:
    • Put your feet around the load and your body over it. This will give you a stable and supportive base from which to lift.
    • Bend your knees and not your back. This allows you to use stronger leg muscles to lift the load and bear the weight, avoiding potential back injury.
    • Lift your head first to keep your neck straight. In turn, this will automatically cause your back to straighten and allow you to see where you are going.
    • Pull the load as close as possible to your body. The further away the load is held the more stress you will feel on your lower back.
    • Lift and carry the load with straight arms.
    • Lift smoothly and try to avoid sudden movements.

Pushing and Pulling

Including the pushing and pulling of devices such as trolleys and barrows, it is important that you:

  • Use your body weight; when pushing you should lean forward and when pulling lean back.
  • Ensure you have enough grip on the floor surface to lean forward/backwards.
  • Avoid twisting, turning, and bending the back.
  • Ensure handling devices are well maintained so that the wheels run smoothly.
  • Ensure floors are hard, even, and free from obstructions.

More Help and Information

Whether you need a bit of advice regarding your warehouse operations, or are in need of updating your pallet racking systems, give our team a call on 0117 955 5211.

Alternatively, why not check out our blog? We offer some great advice regarding all areas of warehousing which could help you.