Manual Handling Training - The Load
Along with other considerations such as the particular working environment and the capabilities of the individual concerned, one of the most important factors when it comes to manual handling is the actual load itself that is being manipulated. There are a number of issues to take into consideration when performing a manual handling risk assessment, many of which can be easily addressed to reduce the chances of a worker suffering a manual handling-related injury.
For example, the contents of the load may be made up of many different items which could be separated into smaller, and therefore lighter, loads. Although this will involve more actual moves, these lighter loads will place much less stress on the body than trying to move them all in one heavy go. It may be possible to separate the different loads by varying weights so that different levels of precaution and appropriate manual handling aids can be utilised according to the need. Even simple changes such as adding handles to improve grip can be the difference between an injury to a person, not to mention a broken item if it falls!
The contents of a heavy load should also be secured to prevent movement in the container. An unexpected shift in weight will usually make a person automatically shift to compensate in order to prevent dropping or losing control of the object. This could lead to hyperextension and cause injuries such as muscle tears and dislocations.
In order to prevent injury to workers, loads should not have sharps risks such as sticking out nails or staples which can easily cut the skin. Rough surfaces too can cause injury, particularly over the long term as the abrasiveness damages the skin and can increase the chances of infection.
For those workers whose job role includes the manipulation of loads, manual handling training is a key part of any health and safety course programme. Managers too will also need to know how to perform effective risk assessments for manual handling issues, and how to reduce the chances of worker injury. Whilst manual handling injuries may be one of the most common reasons for staff to have to take time off work, they are also among the most preventable through proper safety training, common sense and thinking before attempting to move a heavy or awkward load.