Manual handling health and safety
Most of us see manual handling health and safety has a small list of simple common sense rules, which if followed and performed correctly should mean no accidents will happen.
In essence, that should be the case but it still accounts for a third of all reported work injuries in the UK. That in monetary terms translates to over £100 million a year for the British economy, which is just the cost for companies once the accident had happened, for hiring replacement staff, lost productivity, and compensation payouts etc., not taking into account the strain that such accidents put on the NHS.
The specific industries where manual handling health and safety injuries are most common are manufacturing and warehousing. The very essence of those activities is quite dangerous and safety measures are contemplated in order to avoid accidents.
Most low risk businesses as well as construction and agriculture also involve certain risks related to improper manual handling.
Manual handling health and safety is regulated by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended in 2002.
Training courses are an essential safety tool and not to mention employers obligation, designed to prevent the hazards of bad habits with specific guidance for each industry.
The general opinion of most employees attending such training is, that they are not very serious, they are just a set of common sense well known rules that would make the employee loose time at work. Employees should be made aware that such courses are necessary to protect the employer and employees.
It should be noted that the safety trainer should engage people and raise their awareness of the long term impact that bad habits could have on their health. But as we know this is not always the case…
Manual handling health and safety solutions?
High quality and innovative mechanized technology could reduce the risks of serious accidents and long term musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Many warehousing companies are investing heavily in such machinery, designed with safety in mind. There is a 66% higher risk of injury if using manual pallet truck instead of a powered one. While the powered machinery is more expensive it represents value for money for the company and improves workers safety, when considering the costs of personal injury claims.
How is possible to prove that a MSD has been a result of a work accident?
Some companies in order to keep costs low and avoid NHS’ waiting times pay for the employee to have a MRI scan, which is a possibility to determine the cause of any back problems, i.e. if it is due to a work accident or is age- related wear and tear and so on. Also private physiotherapy sessions for the injured employee has proven to be cheaper for businesses, again due to NHS’ prolonged waiting times and time is money…
As always when trying to keep people safe and healthy, a good company’ safety culture is essential. Good communication between managers and employees and creating high level of involvement of the workforce in health and safety matters is really important to save money and lives.
Risk assessments should be performed and continued to reduce hazards throughout and will make everybody lives easier and safer.
Preventing bad manual handling is probably one of the most difficult tasks in occupational safety. Something so natural which anybody would do without thinking, like lifting, lowering, pushing or carrying is very hard to change and re-educate people have a habit of moving in a particular way, no matter how wrong it is.