Manual Handling and Why Is It Important?
23 December 2022
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.
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.