Do all employers have to provide manual handling training?

Paul Logan

March 15 2023

First published: March 15th 2023
Last updated: March 15th 2023

First of all, manual handling training is not mandatory for all staff.

Depending on the nature of the work and operations of your business, manual handling training may need to be considered as part of your health and safety management system.

As a health and safety advisor, we regularly receive requests from employers about whether they need to provide manual handling training?

The first thing we do when addressing such queries is to look at the definition of manual handling in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007 (the Regulations).

Regulation 68 of the Regulations states that:

Manual handling involves any transporting or supporting of any load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees.”

So to answer the question, we need to enquire about:

  1. the ergonomic conditions and characteristics of any loads that employees may be asked to lift, and
  2. whether lifting any workplace loads is likely to cause injury to employees, particularly to the back.

Bending down before lifting and twisting while lifting put the greatest stress on the spine.

Employers therefore need to carefully consider if any work conditions or tasks increase the risk of back injury.

What are the duties of the employer when it comes to manual handling?

One third of all workplace injuries reported to the Health and Safety Authority relate to manual handling.

Manual handling is also a leading cause of workplace injuries and disability.

All employers should therefore consider manual handling as part of their health and safety management. And it’s vital to take appropriate action if you do identify manual handling risks in the workplace.

Regulation 69 of the Regulations states that:

“An employer shall—

(a) take appropriate organisational measures, or use the appropriate means, in particular mechanical equipment, to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by the employer’s employees.”

The key tasks for employers when it comes to manual handling are:

  • Complete a manual handling risk assessment to identify manual handling tasks to be eliminated or reduced.
  • Make changes to the workplace to reduce reliance on employees lifting loads. Changes can include increased use of mechanical equipment or changes in layout or workflow.
  • Provide instruction and training to any staff lifting heavy loads by a qualified Manual Handling Instructor.

Employers should note that while manual handling training is effective in reducing injury and helpful in protecting the employer and the employee, the best approach is to remove or reduce the need for manual handling in the workplace.

Get expert advice on manual handling with Peninsula

When it comes to health and safety, it’s important to identify the risks that impact your workplace.

If your staff are engaged in manual lifting activity, you need to take action to avoid exposing your team to the risk of injury and your business to the cost of employee claims.

Peninsula offers expert advice and training on manual handling at work. Our 24/7 health & safety advice is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Book a free chat with one of our health and safety consultants. For further information, call 1800 719 216.

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