HSA Manual Handling
AN EXCERPT FROM THE HEALTH AND SAFETY AUTHORITY ‘SAFE MANUAL HANDLING’ GUIDELINES
WHAT IS THE LAW?
Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007
Regulation 68: Interpretation for Chapter 4 (of Part 2)
In this Chapter, “manual handling of loads” means any transporting or supporting of a load by one or more employees and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which, by reason of its characteristics or of unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees.
Regulation 69: Duties of employer
An employer shall—
(a) take appropriate organisational measures, or use the appropriate means, in particular
mechanical equipment, to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by the
The Regulations set out a framework for employers to avoid or reduce the risk of injury resulting from manual handling activities. The basic principle enshrined in this Part is that where manual handling of loads which involves a risk of injury (particularly to the back) is present, the employer must take measures to avoid or reduce the need for such manual handling.
The definition of manual handling in Regulation 68 refers to activities where the characteristics of the load pose a risk and the ergonomic conditions of the activity are unfavourable. Regulation 69(c) requires that a risk assessment be carried out on all work tasks which involve manual handling activity. The risk assessment process should ensure that these activities are assessed to identify risk factors and to decide on appropriate control measures, including both engineering and organisational, to avoid or reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury. This assessment should critically review manual handling operations.
Full compliance with the requirements of Regulation 69 means that the employer completes a risk assessment of manual handling tasks in consultation with relevant staff, records the results of the risk assessment in a suitable documented format, puts appropriate control measures in place to avoid or reduce manual handling.
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WHAT ARE THE MAXIMUM WEIGHTS TO BE LIFTED?
There are no longer any absolute weight limits – for the simple reason that there are too many other factors involved – these risk factors have already been covered.
KEY RISK FACTORS ARE:
- excessive fatigue
- bad posture – cramped, restricted areas
- heavy loads
- repetitive bending or twisting
- frequent lifting
However, this diagram indicates guideline weights for lifting and lowering for an adult male (fit and healthy) in the best working conditions. For a female all weights should be reduced by one third.
If a lifting task includes twisting there is a considerable increase in the chance of injury.
FREQUENT LIFTING OR LOWERING
These guideline weights assume up to 30 leisurely operations an hour – where the pace of work is not forced, there are adequate pauses to rest and the load is not held for any length of time.
The weights must be reduced if the operation is repeated more frequently
- by 30% if repeated once or twice per minute
- by 50% if repeated five to eight times per minute
- by 80% if repeated more than twelve times per minute
TACKLING THE PROBLEM
Employers have to seriously look for ways of eliminating manual handling in all cases.
PROVISION OF MECHANICAL AIDS
Wherever practical they must be provided – they can be as simple as a sack trolley. Any necessary training in their use must be provided.