Moving and Handling is often an important part of many peoples daily work routines. The Manual Handling Regulations 1992 entails an employer to conduct manual handling training for employees who have a manual handling component in their job.
Manual handling has long been recognised as most important basis for occupational injury and ill-health, so the current Health and Safety Executive drive “Better Backs” should be welcomed by every one. Around sixty to eighty percent of all workers, at some point, experience backache, caused by repetitive twisting, lifting or exerting too much force, frequently in poorly-organised working conditions with no appropriate consideration being given to the impact of manual handling activities. And this has main outcomes for individuals and for businesses. Around 1 in 5 of the 2.2 million workers, who suffer ill-health have back injuries (costing around 5 million working days (average absence rates for this type of injury is nineteen days) and pounds one hundred and fifty million in NHS physiotherapy costs. Most back injuries can be prevented. Proactive action to avoid injury or to deal hastily with symptoms is not only imperative to declining figures but also cost-efficient.
Thousands of employees undergo painful injuries during manual work. Most manual handling injuries result in back pain or injury. A manual handling injury may occur abruptly or develop steadily over years. The price of such an injury is huge in human, financial, and social terms to the employer, the employee and the community.
The three most important gears in reducing manual handling injuries are:
1. Design of equipment, plant and work practices.
2. Assessment of manual handling jobs.
3. Control of risk.
As much as possible, prior to a new equipment or a piece of apparatus/machine is purchased it must be ensured that, it is free from manual handling risks; that it is proficient enough to be used without causing bodily harm to the user. This is also exact for systems of work. Before planning how work has to be done, make it sure that it is free from manual handling risks.
Any risk assessment and control of a manual handling risk must be done in consultation with the employees who execute the task. The factors you must consider in the assessment are weight, handling type, load position, frequency distance and time, the terrain, the climate, lighting, skill and experience of employee, duration and frequency of activity, forces applied, nature of load, condition of work place, work organization, age/gender and layout of the work place.
A lighter load means a minor risk of injury. The mass of the material handled must be within the capacity of the operator to handle securely.
It is generally easier to push or pull a load than to put down, lift, or carry it. Needless handling enhances fatigue of the employee and amplifies the probability of injury.
If the load is held in front and comfortably close to the body while lifting, there is much less force on the spine. Side bending and twisting, especially while lifting, puts supplementary force on the spine and augments risk of injury, even for light loads. The more you handle a load, the more tired your muscles and bone structure become, making it easier for injuries to happen.
Steep slopes, Rough ground, slippery and bumpy floors, stairs and cluttered floors create moving loads ill at ease and augment the chance of injury.
If it is too cold, too humid or too hot, both the capacity and comfort to work well are decreased. Make it sure that employees be dressed in comfit clothing and shoes that grip fine. Lack of adequate lighting obviously increases the risk of accidents. Workers ought to have the skill and expertise to perform the job securely.
Jobs in which repetitive movements are involved, the time spent on handling must be reduced and greater focus should be on the fact that movements are not causing strain. Forces supposed to be applied evenly, smoothly and close to the body. Forces applied should be well inside the facility of the operator, and should not be exerted with awkward posture.
It is much easier to handle if the load is stable, easy to grip, compact, and can be held close to the body. Live/moving loads are more tricky to work with and call for considering for the safest way to accomplish the task. Working conditions must be safe and comfy, with sufficient room to perform the task. Tools, equipment and plant ought to be well maintained. If the workflow is smooth and there are sufficient numbers of workers for the job, it lessens the risk of injury.
Adolescent employees and elder workers may be at augmented risk of injury from manual handling actions. Women are 3 times more liable than men to undergo injury since they are smaller in structure and grasp.
There must be sufficient room to perform the manual handling task safely i.e. the workspace available should not be too confined. Practically working levels ought to be waist high and equipment, tools and plant must be placed in front and within the reach of the employee performing the particular task.
Control of Risk
When a manual handling job is assessed as a risk, the first control option to be considered is application of administrative tools. The best control for a task is to be redesigned so that the risk is completely eliminated. Aiding with mechanical changes and training are other options. These can be e.g. hand trucks, trolleys, conveyors or wheelbarrows to assist in handling difficult or heavy objects. Mechanical aids should be appropriately maintained and workers must be trained to use them efficiently.
Job related training must be provided to any employee carrying out manual handling tasks. If it is not possible to manage the risks involved in one person lifting and moving weighty, big or awkward objects, a team-lift may be organised. Team-lifting lessens the risk of injury, diminishes exhaustion and formulates the task easier to a large extent.
Numerical Guidelines for Assessment of Manual Handling Operations have been designed by the Health and Safety Executive’s medical and ergonomics experts on the basis of a cautious study of the available literature and their personal wide-ranging practical experience of assessing risks from manual-handling operations.
Individual’s physical capability varies, even amongst persons fit and healthy enough to be present at work. The guideline figures will provide reasonable protection to about ninety five percent of working population.
It is important to understand that the guideline figures are not limits. They might be exceeded where a more thorough consideration shows that it is suitable to do so,
regarding always to the duty to avoid or reduce risk of injury where this is practically feasible. On the other hand, even for a minority of fit, well-trained workers working under favourable conditions any operations which would exceed the guideline figures by more than a factor of about 2 should come under thorough analysis.
Carrying, Lifting and lowering
Basic guideline figure for manual handling operations involving lowering and lifting are laid out below:
Basic guideline figures designed for manual handling operations involving carrying are similar to those given for lifting and lowering, though the hands would not as a rule, be lower than knuckle height.
It is also assumed that the load is held against the body and is carried no more than about ten metres without taking a rest. If the load has to be carried over a longer distance without taking a rest the guideline figures should be reduced.
Pushing and pulling
In manual-handling tasks like pulling and pushing, whether the load is solid, rolled or supported on wheels it is assumed that the force is applied with the hands between knuckle and shoulder height. The guideline figure for starting or stopping the load is a force of about twenty-five kilogram for men and seventeen kilogram for women (i.e. about 250 and 170 Newton respectively). The guideline figure for maintaining the load in motion is a force of about ten kilogram for men and six and a half kilogram for women (i.e. about 100 and 65 Newton respectively).
Handling while seated
The basic guideline figure for handling operations performed while seated applies only when the hands are within the box zone illustrated. If handling beyond the box zone is obligatory or, for example, there is considerable twisting to the side a more thorough assessment should be carried out.
5 Kg for Men and 3 Kg for women.
The main lesson is “stay away from manual handling”. Where feasible use manual aids, where not feasible, use good handling techniques. There are straightforward steps that employers can acquire that would have a striking impact on reducing the number of back injuries at work. The first is for employers to work with staff: they are the ones that perform the job and recognize what can be done to get better tasks. Together, they then should ask some appealing simple questions, such as: could the manual handling activity be avoided? In many cases, answer is “Yes”, so that staff moves, rather than goods they work on, will avoid manual handling. But if the reply to the question is “negative”, then ask: could the conducting task be mechanised?
Even plain and simple aids like patient wheel stretcher/trolleys can appreciably lessen the occurrence of manual handling injury in the hospitals/workplaces. Many workplaces will need some inevitable manual handling. In these cases it is crucial to judge the scale and frequency of the handling and whether workers are, twisting, bending and stretching more than they necessitate to. In addition there is also a need to train staff. It is a human behavior to opt for ease but this is not always best for the business and the individual. High-quality engagement and education with employees to enlighten not only the dangers of but also the techniques to evade injury, and concerning workers in the solutions, is also fundamental. Workplace solutions must be jointly agreed not imposed if they are to be seen implemented in true sense.
Audrey Nelson. Safe patient handling and movement: a guide for nurses and other health care providers.
Council of the European Communities (1990). Council Directive of 29 May 1990 on the minimum health and safety requirements for the manual handling of loads where there is risk particularly of back injuries to workers. Official Journal No. L156/9-13 (90/269/EEC).
Health and Safety Commission (1982). Consultative Document: Proposals for Health and Safety (Manual Handling of Loads) Regulations and Guidance Notes. London: HMSO.
Health and Safety Executive (1992). Manual Handling. Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. Guidance on Regulations L23. London: HMSO.
Mary Duncan (2004). Health and Safety at Work Essentials
Penny Slade et al. A carer’s guide to moving and handling patients.
Tesh KM, Lancaster RJ, Hanson MA, Ritchie PJ, Donnan PT, Graveling RA (1997). Evaluation of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and Guidance HSE Contract Research Report No. 152/1997 Sudbury: HSE Books.
Tesh KM, Symes AM, Graveling RA, Hutchison PA, Wetherill GZ (1992). Usability of manual handling guidance. Edinburgh: Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM Report TM/92/11).