Manual Handling at Work: Risk Assessments
What are the factors that an employer should take into account when assessing manual handling tasks at work?
It is up to the individual employer to decide how best to assess the risks posed by the manual handling tasks required to be carried out by employees. Risk assessments will vary from business to business. Some industries would be classed as having a low risk from manual handling whilst others such as care industries and construction industries would pose a greater risk of manual handling injury and therefore a more detailed risk assessment should be carried out.
As with any risk assessment, the workforce should be involved in the process, and use should be made of any relevant guidance available for particular industries.
However, in most cases the risk assessment should at least consider the following factors:
1. The Task
Does the activity involve twisting, stooping, bending, excessive travel, pushing, pulling or precise positioning of the load, sudden movement, inadequate rest or recovery periods, team handling or seated work?
2. The Individual
Does the individual require unusual strength or height for the activity, are they pregnant, disabled or suffering from a health problem. Is specialist knowledge or training required?
3. The Load
Is the load heavy, unwieldy, difficult to grasp, sharp, hot, cold, difficult to grip, are the contents likely to move or shift?
4. The Workplace Environment
Are there space constraints, uneven, slippery or unstable floors, variations in floor levels, extremely hot, cold or humid conditions, poor lighting, poor ventilation, gusty winds, clothing or Personal Protective Equipment that may restrict movement?