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Why Should Manual Handling Training be Tailored?
Manual handling is a fairly generic term, similar to COSHH (Hazardous Substances) in that the term covers a broad spectrum of circumstances and items.
As far as manual handling is concerned, the correct way to lift or manipulate a load will depend greatly upon the attributes of the particular object in question. For example, characteristics such as the weight of the load, stability of the contents if they are in a container, how easy it is for a person to grip the item, size etc are all variables which need to be taken into account when performing manual handling and are likely to result in an adaptation of manual handling techniques.
It is for this reason that the most effective manual handling training courses are those which are bespoke and tailored to the specific items that are being frequently handled by your employees as they go about their regular workplace activities. Whilst a generic course can teach the basic theory about why safe lifting is important and manually handling items, only a bespoke course which is tailored to the objects that workers are manipulating will be able to teach and focus on the most suitable way to handle them in a way which minimises the chances of them suffering an injury, which is obviously the main reason for providing the training.
Most workplaces are also likely to make use of mechanical aids to assist with the lifting or moving of objects. This machinery will require specific training on its correct and safe operation, which will not be covered on a standard, generic manual handling course.
Manual Handling Training Needs Your Full Attention
Manual handling is a classic example of one of those health and safety topics that everybody thinks they know everything there is to know about the subject, and that any manual handling training they are asked to attend is a waste of their time. A number of people think that moving a load or picking an object up is such a simple task with no actual dangers or serious risks, that it is somehow an insult to their intelligence and beneath them to pay attention and listen. Also, when groups of workers attend health and safety courses such as these, there is sometimes an element of 'showing off' and trying to act cool amongst the person's friends by appearing to not listen.
The truth is that manual handling, or more accurately, incorrect manual handling, can lead to conditions such as back injuries which can be excruciatingly painful and may render the person virtually immobile for a while. Once this happens, the person will wish they paid more attention on the course!
From the employer's point of view, having workers who are trained to handle loads correctly can mean a greatly reduced number of lost working days from staff who have to stay at home and rest whilst their manual handling injury recovers. Unlike an illness where the person may recover in just a few days, an injury brought on by poor manual handling techniques can take weeks or even months to heal completely. During this time it is likely the company may need to recruit and pay the wages of temporary cover to do the work of the injured employee, which inevitably means extra costs to the business. In this situation, the cost of the manual handling course is likely to have been less, and so would have paid for itself basically.
So it is in both the company’s and the employee's interest to ensure that, not only is manual handling training undertaken, but that course attendees give the course tutor their full attention so that they take in the information being taught. They can then put this into practice back in the workplace, which should prevent them from suffering a manual handling-related injury, or as a minimum, significantly reduce the likelihood.
A Tailored, Bespoke Course will Keep Attendees Interested
Keeping the attention of delegates on the course is another key advantage of a bespoke manual handling course. Having to spend ages sitting through a course where large parts of it are not applicable to what they do will soon cause delegates to lost interest and focus, and end up switching off. If this happens, they may then miss vital information.
It is always far more preferable in any topic of health and safety to have a bespoke course written to your exact requirements, if the budget allows. By focusing on the specific tasks and loads that your employees are coming across each day, you can be sure that 100% of the time is being used productively.
For example, what is the point of machinists on a production line who mainly move small items, learning about how to move debris on a demolition site? Whilst both have manual handling risks, the specifics will be completely different.
Similarly, there is not much to be gained by employees being taught the importance of getting up from their chair and standing to pick up or move a load rather than staying sat down and having to stretch for something, if they are in a job role when they are on their feet all day and don’t actually have a chair to sit in!
As an Employee, You Have a Responsibility Too
A common misconception is that health and safety in a workplace is solely the responsibility of management, and that they are the only ones who need to think about it. Although it is true that managers are required to assess risks, introduce safety measures and provide all necessary training, employees also have a responsibility to implement what they have been taught and work in a sensible manner.
Manual handing considerations are no exception, which means manual handling safety is the responsibility of everyone including both managers and the employees of a company. Only through each side working together and taking the subject seriously - as well as the entire health and safety culture within the business as a whole – will the risks and chances of accidents and injuries occurring significantly reduce.
To discuss your bespoke manual handling training requirements further, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form.