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The Dangers Of Lifting In The Workplace And The Importance Of Correct Training On Manual Handling.

   By: Graham J R Baylis

Back Related Problems Effect 1.2 million workers per year!

It's a fact, over 1 million workers have back related problems in the UK, and that means many millions of working days are lost to business every year. The costs don't end there though, as apart from the lost production, employers these days are facing the an increasing number of law suits and claims from their employees, alleging that it was their work that caused their back problem, each one with the potential of costing many 1,000's of pounds.

25% of reportable injuries in the work place are caused by incorrect manual handling.

With more than 25 percent of all reportable injuries in the work place being caused by incorrect manual handling procedures and with an average of 11 working days being lost per injury, this area is one that requires careful consideration, especially when in the UK the total costs of such injuries to employers is estimated at 335 million pounds...

Training required for all staff whose duties include any lifting

Training is therefore required for all staff who have to lift heavy or awkward items as a part of their everyday duties. Remember too that many manual handling injuries build up over a period of time, so even occasional lifting work should be considered if it is regular enough. Employers are being urged to make sure that their staff are armed with the right knowledge in order that their health and welfare are protected, in short to train their staff. The answer for employers is indeed as simple as that, for if they provide staff with the correct training and equipment, the likelihood of any injuries is reduced, and importantly (for the employers) the risks of any injuries claims are reduced.

Manual Handling - Definitions and Official Guidelines

Manual handling is interpreted as "any transporters or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or by bodily force." The regulations on this subject also says "Avoid manual handling operations which involve a risk of injury, so far as is reasonably practicable." Which really means that you need to check if there is a need to move the object in the first place. Finally, where such handling is required, you must first "Assess all such operations which cannot be avoided" and then "Take steps to reduce the risk of injury during those operations to the lowest reasonably practicable." In many instances, this means considering mechanical assistance (in office environments this will often mean trolleys or other simple carrying equipment), but what ever is done it is the duty of the employer to make the assessment.

The Risk Assessment and How Employees can Help

In an office environment a 'generic' assessment is usually acceptable (unless there are specific and routine risks to consider) but whatever, employees can often help employers carry out the assessment - they often know what problems there are and how best to address them. Problems will be typically based upon weight of loads, strains twisting or contortion of the body. The environment around them and the route of carriage is also an issue. It is advisable that assessments are recorded (generic formats are widely available) in all cases as this will assist the employer in answering any case if an accident does occur.

Training - One of the Major Ways Injuries Can be Avoided

The employer's assessment often concludes that one of the steps required to reduce the risk of manual handling is to train office staff in the safe handling of loads. Guidance to office staff can be afforded by training and/or by posters. These can indicate how to recognise harmful manual handling, appropriate systems of work, use of mechanical aids, good handling technique. Remember Training is important but on its own, it can't overcome unsuitable loads and poor working conditions.

Employees' manual handling duties in the office environment

- Follow written/trained work procedures provided for their safety

- Always use equipment provided for their safety " Work with their employer on health and safety matters

- Inform the employer if they identify hazardous handling activities

- Ensure that their activities do not put others at risk

Training Available on DVD / Video

Training staff however can be expensive, especially if such training is off site. Being aware that such training is important, but also recognising that employers have businesses to run, one company (The Office Safety Company) has produced a video / dvd based training package so that all the training can be done in office, thus really meeting the needs of businesses today. Consistently one of their three best selling titles, the Manual Handling package has recently been almost completely re-shot and is presented by Kathy Tayler.

This training package covers the correct lifting procedures and clearly outlines how to avoid injuries and increase the safety level within the workplace. The most common causes of manual handling injuries are identified and the solutions shown. This package could really be a godsend for businesses today and certainly fills the gap in this all important area of training.

The content of this manual handing training package deals with real solutions that employees can relate to in their everyday life and information to help reduce the amount of lost time and absenteeism at work and minimise risk of injury claims.

Manual Handling - The Facts is a must for every company, running time 12 minutes. Comes complete with Manual Handling training booklet and assessment forms. For your copy, visit and purchase your copy on line, or call Office Safety 0871 200 3438

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