According to HSE “Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries. These include work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as pain and injuries to arms, legs, and joints, and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts”. Manual handling includes a variety of activities including lowering, lifting, pulling, pushing, or carrying.
The way in which items and activities are carried out can have serious implications for an employer and can seriously injure someone. Injuries can occur anywhere within a workplace. The repetitive movement and awkward positions of the arms, legs, and back can increase risk.
To prevent such injuries manual handling should be avoided where possible. Manual handling equipment is one major way to aid someone when moving an item to avoid injury. When using lifting equipment there are still considerations that need to be taken:
- Can the person use the equipment?
- Has the person been fully trained on that piece of equipment?
- Once moved is the storage area accessible?
- Could it be delivered directly or closer to the area?
What Risk Factors Affect Manual Handling?
There are a number of factors that can affect manual handling processes and injuries. The easy way to remember is to think LITE. This ensures a person considers every area of the job in front of them. Therefore, improving overall health and safety in the workplace. The acronym stands for Load, Individual, Task, and Environment:
By moving by either pushing, pulling, lifting, or carrying, a person is exposed to risk. The factors that need to be considered are:
- Weight – if the object is too heavy for a person it could be difficult for them to move.
- Characteristics – items that are awkward in shape and size are more difficult to hold and could potentially move. The object could also contain a liquid which would change the centre of balance. The item could have sharp edges or corners, leaving the person, vulnerable to harm.
- Location – if the item is in a difficult place to reach, this will affect the person’s ability to handle the item.
The person themselves can affect their risk of injury; everyone is different:
- Their familiarity with the job and their experience with their work
- Physical fitness
- Knowledge of the load and task
- Training and experience
The nature of the worker’s industry and the tasks they have to do can affect the risk of a manual handling injury occurring. Manual handling in a warehouse compared to a construction site is going to have different risks to someone in an office. Risk factors related to work tasks include:
- Duration of tasks – the number of times a load is handled and the length of time it is carried can increase the risk of injury. If a task is carried out over a long period of time or too frequently this can be extremely demanding. A worker needs adequate rest and recovery time.
- Awkward movements – working at a fixed point or in an awkward position, over an extended period of time that is unnatural can cause injury.
Finally, where the manual handling task is taking place. So don’t just consider the activity itself, but where the manual handling task will be happening. How it will affect the health and safety of the task ahead.
- Layout – a restricted or poorly designed area could lead workers to resort to awkward positions or movements to complete the task. Layout issues include space restrictions, uneven, slippery floors, poor lighting, or changes in floor levels.
- Temperature – high temperatures can lead to exhaustion; however, cold temperatures can change a person’s grip due to cold muscles.
Manual Handling Equipment
One main way to reduce manual handling risks in your workplace is to invest in manual handling equipment. Using the right equipment can help you improve material handling and storage safety while streamlining your processes.
Material handling systems are used across a variety of industries including automotive, chemical plants, energy, construction, consumer goods, online retail, food, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, retail, warehousing, and distribution.
There are a variety of manual handling equipment products, including, stackers, counterbalanced cranes, scissor tables, and pallet trucks. All have a different use but can be extremely beneficial for lifting, moving, and storing things for your business. Lift Safe offers the most comprehensive, reliable, and highest-quality range of moving and handling equipment on the market. Contact our manual handling experts today who can advise and guide you on the right equipment for the job at hand.