Manual handling is defined as transporting a load manually. The load can be a small package or a larger container carried by multiple people. Manual actions include carrying, lifting, pushing, pulling or putting down a load.
Manual handling injuries are one of the most common injuries suffered in the workplace, accounting for around a third of all workplace injuries. Injuries can range from minor to more serious long-term damage. Manual handling injuries can cause serious injuries, or can make existing conditions worse.
Manual handling incidents can occur from a range of activities in the workplace. Common incidents include:
- Lifting a load heavier than your capability
- Repetitive carrying of loads, without sufficient breaks
- Lifting a load above shoulder height
- Twisting your body whilst carrying a load.
Some of the most common injuries from manual handling include:
- Back Injuries – The most common of manual handling injuries. Often affecting the lower back, they can be caused by any of the common incidents listed above. Back injuries can be temporary or can develop into long-term conditions.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders – Affects the joints, bones and muscles. These injuries are often felt in the limbs and back and symptoms develop over time.
- Hand and Foot Injuries – Lifting loads with your hands make your hands vulnerable to injury. Foot injuries are also common, as they receive the impact if a heavy object is dropped. Bruised or broken bones are common when performing manual handling tasks.
- Repetitive Strain Injuries – Causes pain in muscles. These injuries mostly affect the limb, neck and shoulders. They are caused by doing repetitive actions that put your body in an awkward position for an extended period of time.
- Slips, trips and falls – These injuries can happen any time in the workplace. However, when carrying out a manual handling task, the risk for injuries is higher. Carrying an item can obscure your vision and the impact from large loads can cause injuries.
Manual handling injuries can have serious complications. Injuries can be severe and worsen any already existing injuries. If you have been involved in an incident, you should report the incident to your employer and if necessary, seek legal advice to receive compensation from your employers.
How to avoid manual handling injuries
Steps should be taken to make sure that any manual handling work is carried out as safely as possible to reduce the risk of injury. Before undertaking the task, it is important to assess the nature of the load, your individual capability and whether the manual handling is necessary. If using a lifting aid is reasonable, manual handling should be avoided to reduce the risk of injury.
Once you have planned the lift, you should:
- Adopt a stable position.
- Get a good hold of the object.
- Remain in a good posture – do not bend your back whilst lifting.
- Keep the load close to your body.
- Avoid twisting your upper body.
- Move slowly.
- Rest and adjust the load if necessary.
Employers have a responsibility to make sure that the work environment is safe, by following strict regulations. Employers must comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. This involves avoiding any manual handling operations that have a high risk of injury, making sufficient assessments of any factors involved and taking steps to keep employees safe.
A major part in reducing the risk of injury during manual handling tasks is training and awareness. This is often a requirement in many workplaces, and it is important that workers are consulted on health and safety issues in the workplace. Additionally, the work environment must be risk assessed to address potential injuries in manual handling, such as ensuring that loads are not too heavy and the correct equipment is provided. This ensures that risks are avoided. Workers must follow manual handling safety practices at all times. If an employer has failed in their duty to provide a safe work environment, they can be held accountable for any injuries arising from this.
How we can help you
We understand that a manual handling injury at the workplace can be stressful, physically and mentally. As one of the most common injuries at work, GSR Solicitors has recovered compensation for a range of claims arising from manual handling injuries. Our dedicated team are always committed to achieving the best possible outcome for you, and on top of the compensation.
For a free initial advice on how we can assist you please contact us on 01772 466255 or complete our online enquiry form and we will call you.