Manual handling guide for employers

Manual handling guide for employers

Manual handling mistakes are amongst the most common causes of injury within the workplace. MSDs (Musculoskeletal disorders) account for around over a third of all work based injuries.

Injuries caused by manual handling mistakes can occur in almost any workplace. Obviously roles which require regular manipulation of heavy items are those most at risk. Factors that contribute to manual handling injuries include heavy manual labour, awkward postures, manual materials handling, and previous or existing injury.

For employers to limit the risks of such injuries there are a number of steps that can be taken. Good starting points would be to consider the risks from manual handling to the health and safety of your employees and then consult your workforce. Your employees will more than likely know what the risks in the workplace are and therefore probably offer some practical solutions themselves. This works well alongside existing regulations which require the following:

  • 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
  • Employees also have a responsibility and they should
  • Follow systems of work in place for their safety
  • Use equipment provided for their safety properly
  • Cooperate with their employer on health and safety matters
  • Inform their employer if they identify hazardous handling activities
  • Take care to make sure their activities do not put others at risk


Risk control

It’s essential that employers take whatever precautions necessary to avoid injury, meaning that risk assessments are required by law in all situations. A risk assessment is about identifying and taking sensible and proportionate measures to control the risks in your workplace. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will help you decide whether you should be doing more.

Identify risk

To identify risk to individuals requires observing workers carrying out regular tasks. Employers should look out for employees who are

  • Out of breath and sweating
  • Showing excessive fatigue
  • Display bad posture
  • Working in a cramped area
  • Any awkward or heavy loads
  • In receipt of a history of back trouble

Raise awareness

There are many excellent training courses available that provide essential information to at risk employees and look to ensure best practice. The emphasis is very much on the employer to show that all possible steps are being taken to protect the workforce; the importance of adhering to standards and keeping them up to date cannot be over-emphasised.