More than one third of all reportable 'Over Three Day' injuries and nearly 10% of 'Major Injuries' are associated with manual handling. Many injuries are cumulative, resulting from repeated exposure to manual handling operations. Sprains and strains arise from the incorrect application and/or prolongation of bodily force. Poor posture and excessive repetition of movement can be important factors in onset of injuries.
The Manual Handling Operations (MHO) Regulations 1992 apply to manual handling operations, defined as "any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or by bodily force".
Employers are subject to a clear hierarchy of measures to meet duties under the regulations:-
- To avoid hazardous MHO so far as is reasonably practicable
- To assess any hazardous MHO that cannot be avoided
- To reduce the risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable.
1. AVOIDING HAZARDOUS MHO Can the movement etc. of loads be eliminated altogether? Can the operations be automated or mechanised?
2. ASSESSING HAZARDOUS MHO Where a possibility of injury from MHO is indicated, a more specific assessment should be carried out. This is distinct from the everyday judgements which supervisors and others will have to make dealing with MHO. It needs to be broad in approach, identify measures to deal with problems likely to arise and include training provisions. Industry specific data and assessments might prove useful sources of information. The assessment should be recorded and kept readily accessible as long as it remains relevant. It should be noted that assessment is not an end in itself, merely a structured way of analysing risks and pointing the way to practical solutions.
The booklet L23 - Guidance on Regulations (MHO Regulations 1992) contains a list of factors that be taken into account when assessing MHO (Schedule 1) and an example of an assessment checklist (Appendix 2). In broad terms, the five factors involved are:-
- The task
- The load
- The working environment
- Individual capability
- Other factors
Last updated 21/09/2011