Manual Handling is a physical activity that takes place in every workplace, and in some cases the activity does not pose problem. However it can be a potential workplace hazard when an employee is required to handled very heavy loads, which could result in a back injury. The type of manual handling activity that needs to be assessed is defined in Regulation 68 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007:
“Manual Handling involves any transporting or supporting of any load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees.”
These characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions are the risk factors which are outlined in Schedule 3 of the 2007 Regulations and have the potential to cause harm.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007, Chapter 4 of Part 2, outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to manual handling. The key requirements include:
Carrying out a manual handling risk assessment of existing manual handling tasks before making an informed decision on what manual handling tasks need to be avoided or reduced.
Organising tasks to allow the use of mechanical or other means to avoid or reduce the need for the manual handling of loads by employees in the workplace. The hazards can be avoided or reduced through the introduction of appropriate organisational measures for example improved layout of a work area to reduce unnecessary long carrying distances; or the use of appropriate means, in particular mechanical equipment
Providing instruction and training to relevant staff.
Refresher training will be at intervals not more than every three years and when there is any major change in the work involved or equipment used or when an employee is transferred to another activity requiring different loads to be handled.