Manual handling risk assessment

09 July 2019

Whether you’re moving boxes in the office or working on a construction site, manual handling can appear in many forms. Unfortunately, so can injuries and accidents.

Nearly 1.6 million British people suffered from work-related ill health, in 2020. Injuries that happen because of work misconduct can have huge effects on both the employer and employee. 

You can promote overall health and safety policies in your business – by introducing manual handling risk assessments. Failure to comply can lead to consequential fines, business closure, and even possibly imprisonment.

This guide will help you with which manual handling risk assessment factors to consider. And show you four elements of manual handling risk assessments that are vital for your own policies.

What exactly is manual handling?

Manual handling is when an employee, or group of workers, either move or support an object. The load of the object can be inanimate (like boxes, equipment, stock) or animate (like humans, animals, etc). 

Manual handling activities can include:

  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Carrying
  • Lifting
  • Moving
  • Handling

From time to time injuries can, unfortunately, occur during these tasks. They can happen by incorrectly performing a task once or through carrying out the task repetitively. All of which can lead to occupational accidents, medical illnesses, or being diagnosed as unfit for work.

What is a manual handling risk assessment?

A manual handling risk assessment is used to identify risks in activities carried out by your workforce. From the assessment, you can create clear safety policies, provide relevant training, and communicate sensible working conduct for your workers.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, you are lawfully responsible for the safety, health and welfare of your employees. So, having a solid manual handling policy in place can minimise accidents and injuries.

Some manual handling activities can be completed with machines and don’t require human assistance. It's vital to identify these potential changes for such tasks –  through manual handling risk assessments.

Who is responsible for conducting a manual handling risk assessment?

The Manual Handling Operations Regulation 1992 states that the employer is legally responsible for carrying out risk assessments for manual handling tasks. Training your employees on how to reduce risks is important. However, it’s vital that you review and monitor the outcome. This will ensure that they carry out procedures correctly.

Through the risk assessments, you can ensure that employees are following safe working conditions. And reassign tasks that can be done through mechanical means. 

The risk assessment can help you record and draw safety control measures. It can also help you apply health and safety steps to minimise future accidents.

Compensation claims

Injuries can affect employees for reasons like a lack of sufficient training, or working in poor conditions. It is your legal duty as an employer to reduce and avoid potential risks during manual handling activities.

By failing to meet working legislation, you could face fines and legal action from injured parties. Depending on the accident, this could even escalate to lasting effects on business productivity, brand reputation, or even imprisonment.

How is a manual handling risk assessment carried out?

Addressing the dangers when assessing manual handling risks is your primary aim. By identifying the risks, you can place control measures for reducing accidents.

A sample risk assessment for manual handling allows you to identify direct risk factors to employees. Placing control measures can stop activities being carried out in poor conditions, or handling tasks repetitively.

TILE - Task, Individual, Load Environment

The acronym TILE acts show specifications which cover preliminary and remedial actions for manual handling activities in your workplace.

Here are four main considerations for manual handling risks:

  • Task: this relates to handling the task itself. How is it performed, and is it affecting health and safety standards?
  • Individual: this relates to the employee carrying out the task. You should consider whether the individual is strong, medically fit, and trained.
  • Load: this relates to the objects, goods, or people being moved. Consider the size, weight, required number of manual lifting needed, etc to move the load.
  • Environment: this relates to the working conditions of the area where the task occurs. For example, is the area slippery or uneven? Is there sufficient lighting? Any trip hazards? Constraints to the space?

Manual handling risk assessment checklist

Whether you’re carrying out a manual handling risk assessment in the office or offsite - it’s important to review these tasks regularly. Audit them annually and when legal regulations change. 

Manual handling risk assessment factors to consider:

  1. Introduce mechanical aids, like forklifts, conveyors, hoists, etc.
  2. Reduce moving loads over long distances. Also ensure there are no obstructions in the work area.
  3. Assign certain jobs based on a worker’s capability. (Are they trained enough? Are they physically fit enough to move the load safely?)
  4. Make sure the activities do not require twisting, reaching, and stooping.
  5. Provide appropriate training, suitable clothing and equipment needed to carry out tasks.

Get advice for manual handling risk assessments with Peninsula

As an employer, it is your legal duty to protect the health and safety of your employees. Having a safe working environment can minimise effects on business productivity and concentrate on workforce morale.

For questions like “when should a manual handling risk assessment be performed?” Or “how often should a manual handling risk assessment be reviewed?” – Peninsula can answer them all.  We can help you create yearly manual handling risk assessments for your business. As well as help you build customized risk assessments to help reduce unexpected accidents and injuries.

Peninsula clients get access to 24/7 HR consultation with our employment specialists. And if you are not yet a client, you can still enjoy free advice from one of our business experts.

We also offer expert employment health and safety advice. And can help you with manual handling policies, training, and risk assessments perfect for your business. Simply call us on 0800 028 2420.

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