Health and Safety of Manual Handling Lifting Equipment
When it is reasonably practical to do so the implementation of mechanical aids and lifting equipment can be introduced to assist with manual handling tasks and significantly reduce the stresses and strains that would otherwise be inflicted upon a worker's body if this equipment was not available for them to use.
Whilst this equipment is often imperative to doing the task in a safe manner, not to mention much faster than could be done if say a single person or group had to haul a heavy load across the factory floor rather than using a lifting machine, there are also health and safety issues regarding the machinery and equipment itself that need to be taken into consideration and dealt with appropriately.
Any machinery will have a number of potential hazards associated with it, and just because this machinery is intended to contribute towards health and safety should not make people forget that it can still be dangerous if used incorrectly without proper training or is not properly maintained.
For example a lack of training or simply operating the equipment without proper care and attention can result in injuries such as crush or trapping injuries. The contents of the load being moved may also be a hazardous substance and dropping it or other such accident can result in a serious incident which poses a risk to the health of everyone nearby. Failing to sufficiently maintain safety equipment leaves it susceptible to malfunctioning just like any other piece of poorly maintained machinery.
For manual handling lifting equipment that is fixed into position rather than an aid which is freely moved about, it is important to situate it in a way which minimises the necessity to lift loads over people's heads. Steps should be taken as far as reasonably practical to protect workers from objects falling from height or risk of trapping or crush injuries.
So whilst the installation of manual handling lifting equipment to prevent injuries to workers should be applauded, it is important to ensure that that this equipment does not endanger their health and safety also. Workers will need appropriate manual handling training not only in the importance of using the equipment instead of trying to do everything manually, but also in its correct operation so that they use it safely.