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Manual Handling Safety in the Workplace

Over one-third of reported workplace injuries can be attributed to manual handling, making it one of the most common causes of work-related injuries. Manual handling can be defined as moving a load by lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1992 and subsequent amendments apply to this kind of work.

Manual handling injuries are typically musculoskeletal disorders. These injuries generally occur over time because of repetitive motion, although injuries are occasionally caused by a single handling incident. Common manual handling injuries include strains, hernias and torn ligaments and tendons. These injuries usually occur in the back, but the neck, hands, arms, shoulders, legs and feet are also vulnerable.

Any manual handling operation has the potential to cause injury. You can reduce your employees’ risk of manual handling injury by doing the following:
• Conduct a manual handling risk assessment and review it regularly
• Avoid manual handling tasks as much as possible; if manual handling cannot be avoided, evaluate the risk of the task and put measures in place to prevent injury
• Train your employees on safe lifting techniques, such as the following:
o Evaluate whether the load must be manually lifted, or if lifting equipment can be used
o Get a good hold, and start in a stable posture
o Keep the load close to the waist
o Move smoothly
o Don’t lift or handle more than can be easily managed
• Encourage the use of lifting equipment, such as hoists and forklift trucks
• Provide information, when possible, on the load—include weight, centre of gravity and handholds

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