Employers Responsibilities Regarding Manual Handling
Manual handling is similar to other hazards with regards to the health and safety of workers in that the first step which employers should consider is whether the danger can be removed through avoidance. In other words, can changes be made which mean the employee(s) no longer needs to engage in the task? As far as manual handling is concerned, these changes can include re-designing the work area so that objects no longer need to be moved from one place to another.
Of course, in many businesses the only way to completely eliminate the need to manually handle and manipulate loads is to shut down and cease to function, which is obviously not a viable option! It is an employer's duty to eliminate the risks as far as is reasonably practical. Where it would not be practical and cannot be eliminated or avoided, a risk assessment and suitable control measures need to be introduced to help prevent manual handling injuries to workers.
The findings of the risk assessment will determine the next course of action. The most common steps will be the introduction of mechanical assistance aids which can be used to move the load, adjusting the load if possible such as splitting it up into smaller pieces so that it is not one single heavy piece, and the provision of manual handling training to give workers a greater knowledge of the implications and risks associated from incorrect manual handling techniques and instruction on how to manipulate loads correctly and with minimal risk of injury. Due to the large numbers of employees needing time off work through manual handling injuries, and the subsequent financial implications for the company, many businesses view manual handling training as an essential part of their health and safety training programmes as it will often pay for itself in the long run.