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Manual Handling and Why Is It Important?

Manual Handling and Why Is It Important?

Manual handling is the leading cause of injuries and illness in the workplace. According to research, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) account for most of these problems in Ireland. This is often as a result of repetitive strain injuries. A specific training is required to help protect employers and employees from the risks associated with incorrect manual handling.

But what is manual handling exactly and why else is it so important?

 

What is Manual Handling Exactly?

Manual handling refers to either supporting or transporting a load using bodily force and the use of the word “load” extends beyond inanimate objects to people and animals (e.g. lifting, pushing, pulling and carrying a load). If these type of actions are carried out without the correct body posture or procedure, there is always a risk of injury.

In fact, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle, joint or bone problems are the most common types of work-related illness. This means incorrect load handling is ahead of stress, anxiety and depression when it comes to the cause of injuries or illness among employees.

Manual handling courses are designed to teach people how to identify, approach and perform physical tasks in a way that reduces the risk of injury. It’s also important to know about the legal requirements that oversee health and safety in the workplace.

 

Legal Requirements for Health and Safety at Work

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is responsible for overseeing health and safety at the workplace in Ireland. There is also a piece of legislation, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which attaches responsibilities related to manual handling to both employees and employers.

Simply put, employers are required to protect the health and safety of their employees as a result of what they do. While these employers need to undertake regular risk assessments, there is also a need to provide a relevant training. The training has to focus on areas including load, task and working environment. Failing to adhere to these requirements can result in severe formal enforcement action by inspectors on behalf of the HSA.

 

Is manual handling training necessary?

Training is mandatory when manual handling in a particular role involves a risk of injury. If an employer is unsure as to whether or not such training is needed, it is usually best to stay on the safe side and proceed with this training for staff.

 

Why Manual Handling Training is So Important

Manual handling training helps prevent injuries in the workplace. It teaches employees to avoid tasks in which they might incur an injury. It also helps employers establish health and safety measures to protect against injuries in general.

The implications of related injuries is significant for both employer and employee. Such injuries are common and can happen in any type of workplace. The cause might be things like bad posture, heavy labour or repetitive movements. This last one is especially important to note. Many injuries are caused over time by tasks which require the repetition of a particular action. Such tasks are often the cause of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).

For example, it is often the case that employees will need to move, lift or carry items as part of their daily work schedule. These actions usually involve stretching, bending or twisting. Without the appropriate training, an individual is likely to perform these tasks incorrectly. This is why musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is such a big problem for employers and the number one reason employees need to take time off work as a result of illness.

 

The True Cost of Manual Handling Injuries at Work

HSA officials frequently carry out inspections and take enforcement action whenever necessary. This can result in unplanned costs to train employees or improve aspects of health and safety in the workplace. However, the cost of ignoring the importance of manual handling training lies elsewhere.

As a result of injuries and illness, employers often need to bear significant costs due to absenteeism, overtime and loss of productivity. The training of replacement staff can result in further costs. There is also the risk of having to pay compensation to the employees. As for the injured person, their inability to do the job as normal can have long-reaching consequences. Such consequences can affect the health, mobility or future job prospects in the same industry.

 

Employer Responsibility

Legislation requires employees to take care of their own health and safety. In addition, they must follow systems of work according to the instruction provided. Individuals are also responsible for reporting possible hazards and informing managers about incidents using the proper channels. Meanwhile, Employers need to carry out risk assessments on regular basis. Suitable equipment should be used to reduce the need for human touch. When physical handling is required, employers must provide manual handling training for their employees.

 

But what does a manual handling training course actually look like?

This training is designed to ensure participants are properly trained in the safe practices and principles of manual handling. The course should abide by legislation and provide sufficient guidance and education to ensure the best possible health and safety measures are in place.

You will find diagrams, videos and practical guides within manual handling training and this course should be designed to meet legal requirements by a qualified tutor. The course content should enable employees to describe techniques for manual handling and recognise hazardous situations, while understanding the law and their own responsibility to health and safety.

Participants will usually complete an online theory course for manual handling before arranging for a practical session which takes them through an assessment for safely lifting, pulling and carrying objects in the workplace.

Now, are you an employer in need of manual handling training for your staff? Maybe you need some training yourself? MyElearnSafety offers a Manual Handling Awareness Course that fully adheres to the legal requirements in Ireland for health and safety in the workplace.

Construction Site Safety Best Practices

Construction Site Safety

Assess the risks

Slip, trips and falls

According to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of death in construction. Think about the exposed high-rise buildings or buildings with scaffolding around them. Even falls from ladders cause a significant amount of on-the-job industries. Injuries occur when workers do not install scaffolds securely or use ladders incorrectly which is the leading cause of accidents.

 

Hazardous materials/ Chemicals

A concerning rising safety hazard in the construction industry is the mishandling and misuse of hazardous materials.

The use of hazardous materials and chemicals is commonly identified as a key hazard in manufacturing industries but can often be overlooked in construction. Perhaps unknowingly, construction workers are handling, using and emitting hazardous materials every day on site.

Access all hazardous materials and Chemicals that will be on the construction site before the work begins and make sure the workers know the safety procedures around them.  For more information on how you can educate your employees on hazardous materials and chemicals please click here.

 

Electrocution

Electricity is one of the great inventions of the past century, but there’s no getting around the fact that it can be extremely dangerous if it’s not handled properly. Any construction site has the potential to expose construction workers to electricity. Many tools and pieces of equipment require electricity to operate. This is why it’s so critical for any type of construction worker to receive appropriate safety training for the use of electricity on a job site.

It’s also important for construction workers to have access to appropriate safety gear and equipment if they are required to work with or around electricity.

 

Heavy and/or powerful tools

The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance. The employer is responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees. Employers shall not issue or permit the use of unsafe hand tools. Employees should be trained in the proper use and handling of tools and equipment.

These tools also often cause hand-arm vibration. According to the HSE; By law, as an employer, you must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration so that you can protect your employees from risks to their health.

 

Mental Heath

Dermot Carey, Director Safety and Training, Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said;

“Research shows that 10 people a week in Ireland take their own lives – 8 out of these ten are men. The construction sector is 96% male. We know from feedback we have received that workers in the construction sector are part of these statistics. As an industry we have focussed a lot of our effort in the past at managing safety issues – recently we have realised that we need to give time to managing people’s wellbeing…. the slogan for the day is “ Mind Your Head”. 

For more information on how you can educate your employees on Mental Health please click here.

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The fundamental principle is that personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be used as a last resort. The safety and health of employees must be first safeguarded by measures to eliminate workplace risks at source, through technical or organisational means (e.g by substituting hazardous chemical ) or by providing protection on a collective basis (e.g providing scaffolding instead of harnesses).

The employer has to make an assessment of the hazards in the workplace in order to identify the correct type of PPE to be provided and to ensure that PPE is appropriate to the risk. Care must be taken in selecting PPE as certain types give reasonably high levels of protection while others,  that may appear almost the same, give relatively low levels of protection. Source – Health and Safety Authority

 

If you would any further information on how you can be more safe or have questions please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us either by mailing Shane@elearn.ie or calling Tel +353 1 693 1421.

Construction: The 10 Most Common Health and Safety Risks

We at My Elearn Safety are always looking to share valuable information with our followers. The UK company Papertrail have written a very informative blog on the 10 Most Common Health and Safety Risks in Construction.

Health and Safety Risks

Accident fatality rates in the construction industry are double that of the sector average, with rates of minor accidents almost incalculably more.

In such an ever-changing working environment this is hardly surprising. But many employers are still unaware of their duty of care to employees, visitors, and even those not directly related to their activities.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most common risks associated with working on a typical construction site, and highlighted the steps you can take today to effectively manage those risks. Read on to find out more.

Working at Heights

The construction and/or demolition of buildings frequently requires tradesmen to work at height. In 2014, falls from height were the most common cause of construction site fatalities, accounting for nearly three in ten fatal injuries to workers.

The risks associated with working at height are often increased by added access and mobility restrictions. Training, including safety awareness training, is essential for employees required to work at height.

Clearly, working at height should be treated with added caution, so be sure to follow these guides from the HSE:

 

…The blog goes on to include some of the following risks and also some risks you wouldn’t think of;

and more, to continue reading this blog please click here. 

Have a look at our Construction Health and Safety Courses here. 

Look After your Construction Workers Health and Time

Do you have workers or are a worker yourself exposed to Chemicals, Silica Dust or Asbestos? It is the responsibility of the employer to make sure workers are protected and are informed of the best practices on how to work safely in a safe environment.

How to educate your employees

Doing a course is the easiest and most practical way to make sure your employees are educated. However taking a course can be expensive and time consuming for both the employer managing it and the employees taking the courses.

That is why many construction companies around Ireland have opted for Online Safety Training as a solution. Online training is a cost effective alternative to traditional class based learning. Courses can be taken with in a few hours of study time with 24/7 accessibility which your employees will prefer.

Below we have listed the most common health risks for workers in construction.

Construction Workers Health

Silica Dust

What is Silica Dust and route of exposer?

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica. Cristobalite and tridymite are two other forms of crystalline silica. All three forms may become respirable size particles when workers chip, cut, drill, or grind objects that contain crystalline silica. Inhalation is the primary route which can penetrate deep into the lung

Legislation

The respirable fraction of the dust is invisibly fine and the OELV for Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) is 0.1mg/m3 averaged over 8 hours, as set down in the HSA Chemical Agents Code of Practice under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations 2001. A risk assessment under these regulations is required where exposures to RCS can occur. The Safety, Health And Welfare At Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 S.I. No. 36 of 2016 contains a Prohibition on silica – Regulation 128 “An employer shall ensure that no sand or other substance containing free silica is introduced as an abrasive into any blasting apparatus. Source – HSA

Health effects

Did you know that Silica Dust has been classified as a human lung carcinogen? Additionally, breathing Silica Dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. When Silica Dust is inhaled, it enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen which causes many issues including silicosis. Since silicosis affects lung function, it makes one more susceptible to lung infections like tuberculosis.

See Course overview here – Silica Dust Awareness 

Asbestos

What is Asbestos and route of exposer?

Asbestos a mineral that exists naturally in a fibrous form, what makes it so dangerous is that it is resistant to heat, water, chemicals and electricity. There are many products that have asbestos in them including; fireproof coatings, concrete and cement, bricks, pipes, gaskets, insulation, drywall, flooring, roofing, joint compound, paints and sealants. Asbestos also exists in electrical appliances, plastics, rubber, mattresses, flowerpots, lawn furniture, hats and gloves. Working with asbestos products puts your health at risk.

Legislation

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 386 of 2006) , aim to protect the health and safety of all employees who may be exposed to dust from asbestos containing materials, during the course of their work activities. The regulations apply to all work activities and workplaces where there is a risk of people inhaling asbestos dust. Source – HSA

Health effects

Asbestos is a Category 1 carcinogen and all six types can cause cancer. Blue and brown asbestos are known to be more dangerous than white asbestos. There is no cure for asbestos-related disease. Following exposure to asbestos, a person may develop one of the following three fatal diseases: Asbestosis: fibres penetrating deep into the lung causing scarring of the tissue. Asbestos-related lung cancer and Mesothelioma, a cancer of the cells that make up the lining around the outside of the lungs.

See Course overview here – Asbestos Awareness 

Chemical safety in Construction

What is Chemical Safety in Construction and route of exposer?

Chemical safety is an important consideration on construction sites. There are also many hazards that may not be obvious, but they can still present a health hazard if they aren’t handled properly. Some of the most common chemicals that workers are exposed to include: Zinc, Cadmium, Beryllium and Mercury. There is a wide range of expose including, contact with the skin, inhalation and ingestion and injection.

Legislation

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The Code of Practice contains the following elements: – Schedule 1 to this Code of Practice stipulates the OELVs, which are currently legally binding under the Chemical Agent Regulations. – Schedule 2 to this Code of Practice provides a list of substances which are under review by the Health and Safety Authority. – Schedule 3 contains a Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Number index of all substances included in the Code of Practice.  Source – HSA

Health effects

As there are a vast amount of different types of chemicals used and each have their own health effects it’s not possible to list them however what we can say is that exposure, especially prolonged exposure is very dangerous to your health. Some chemicals may also have physical chemical hazards, e.g. flammable, explosive or have additional hazards if they are mixed or stored with incompatible chemicals. Chemicals can also have an adverse effect on the environment if they are used, stored or disposed of incorrectly.

See Course overview here – Chemical Safety