Everybody Needs Manual Handling Training

in Manual

At some point, 8 in 10 of us will experience back pain and figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report that around 30% of all injuries to employees are caused when handling, lifting and carrying. Manual handling training is not just important for people who do regular heavy lifting, but for anyone who does ANY sort of lifting and carrying - that’s almost everyone. All “manual handling” needs to be done properly. An awkward sideways or sudden movement, regular or repetitive tasks - they could all cause back strain. Your back is a wonderful piece of technology, but also a vulnerable one and it needs to be taken good care of.

Manual handling technique isn't just learning the correct way to hold yourself; most of it is thinking about what you are going to do before you do it. Always test the weight, always consider the route: are there stairs, doors to be opened, is the lighting sufficient, is there somewhere to put it down? These are all examples; there are many more factors that should be considered.

The HSE launched a Better Backs campaign as a major initiative in 2006 to focus on reducing the incidence of back pain at work. The overall aim at that time was to encourage people to think about working conditions and use appropriate equipment to reduce the incidence of back injuries at work. Five years on, back injuries at work due to poor manual handling HAVE BEEN reduced but still remain an issue.

According to details from the HSE, the five industries accounting for the largest number of handling injuries are recycling, land transport, sewage and refuse disposal, furniture and food production and beverages. The HSE statistics also break down the manual handling injuries into types, for example over the last five years 25% of injuries were caused when lifting or putting down loads, 16% when pushing or pulling loads and 11% were sprains and strains from body movement.

Good manual handling training should include explanations of ALL factors which need to be taken into consideration when preparing for a lift. It should clearly show the correct method of lifting. Explaining how the back works gives great background and clarifies what exactly is happening when the back is mistreated and makes SENSE of the training. Good training needs to hold the interest, using various forms such as video, animation, illustration and clear, well-spoken language. Regular interactivity ensures knowledge is more likely to be retained.

A toddler picking up a box from the floor will almost invariably use naturally good manual handling technique - bending at the knees rather than from the back - perhaps because their centre of gravity is low, but for whatever reason over the years that good technique is lost and needs to be re-learnt. We can all avoid future back pain by taking a little time now.
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Kai Perry has 17 articles online

The author works for the Interactive Health and Safety Company, who produce a series of highly regarded Health and Safety training programmes, including one on Manual Handling.

For more information about Manual Handling, visit www.ihasco.co.uk/training-programme/manual-handling-in-the-workplace
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Everybody Needs Manual Handling Training

This article was published on 2011/11/09