Manual Handling

Hazardous manual handling

Hazardous Manual Handling is defined as “work requiring the use of force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain an object, animal or person if the work involves one or more of the following:

  • sustained awkward posture;
  • repetitive movement;
  • application of single or repetitive use of unreasonable amount of force;
  • exposure to vibration;
  • lifting persons or animals;
  • unbalanced or unstable loads;
  • loads that are difficult to grasp or hold.

Manual Handling Risk Assessment

Senior management should in consultation with employees and / or health and safety representative identify and risk-assess all hazardous manual handling tasks. When conducting the risk assessment the following needs to be considered:

  • the task (e.g. undertaken for long periods of time)
  • individual (e.g. skills and training level)
  • load (e.g. too heavy, too large, awkward shape)
  • environment (e.g. stairs to navigate, lack of space).

When completing a risk assessment the appropriate level of control needs to be considered, this can be achieved by using the hierarchy of controls. In regards to manual handling risks, the following levels of control should be considered:

  • altering the workplace (e.g. redesigning the workplace)
  • altering the environmental conditions including heat, cold and vibration
  • altering the systems of work used to carry out the task involving manual handling
  • changing the objects used in the task involving manual handling
  • using mechanical aids such as a trolley
  • provision of information, instruction or training.

These controls must also be assessed for their short, medium or long term viability, and a review of the controls must be carried out after a specified time


Safe Work Procedures (Hazardous Manual Handling)

Once a risk assessment has been completed, a safe work procedure may need to be developed to document and communicate the safe steps staff should take when performing hazardous manual handling tasks. When developing a safe work procedure, senior management should consult with their employees and / or health and safety representative, and ensure that the safe work procedure is communicated to all staff that will be performing the task.

Manual Handling Training and Induction

It is best practice for all employees that will be performing hazardous manual handling tasks undertake manual handling training, complete regular refresher training and are suitably inducted in how to complete the task. This can include a formal training session, reading through a safe work procedure or performing a demonstration of the task.

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