More often than not, if a manual handling task goes wrong, it is most likely to be due to poor planning and a lack of consideration of the different components that make up the task as a whole. When there are additional hazards involved, such as the potential to fall from height, the consequences can be even more severe. Make sure you plan your lifts properly!
- Take proper time to plan the task. All manual handling activities should be subject to a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. Where possible, avoid the need for people to move heavy items, but if that is not possible, aim to reduce the risk of injury in doing so. Could a mechanical aid such a hoist be used instead? Can handles be fitted to the load for better grip?
- Look at the load. If it’s heavy or unstable, can it be broken up to make it more manageable? Can the distance to move it be reduced? Remember that manual handling doesn’t just include lifting a moveable object – it also covers actions such as pulling, pushing and lowering of loads. Ensure that all the elements of the lift are taken into account.
- Consider the location where the lift will take place. Is the lighting sufficient? Are there any trip or slip hazards? Work out if there is anything else, other than the load, which could cause a problem in the local environment – such as fragile surfaces or falls from height.
- Take into account the human factors of those involved. What are their likely capabilities? Have they got the necessary experience and knowledge? Are they worried about time pressures and ‘just getting the job done’?
- Employees have a duty to follow instructions and safe systems of work. Make sure they’ve been given the correct training and information in order to do the job.
Contact us should you require advice.