What are the Manual Handling Regulations?
To give the Manual Handling Regulations it’s full title, it is The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended in 2002.)
Or more commonly, the MHO regulations.
What does the Manual Handling Regulations apply to?
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations apply to the manual handling of loads that is by human effort alone. (Lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, moving etc).
The effort by a human may be applied directly to the load, as described above, or indirectly with the assistance of lever operated machinery (such as a jack handle) a rope for pulling, or a chain.
The human effort may be reduced further by use of equipment such as a sack truck, rubber wheeled trolley or wheelbarrow for transporting loads around.
However, human effort is still required to move and position the load.
For clarification, the use of human effort for means other than moving a load – i.e. operating a ratchet strap or pulling on a rope to lash a load down for example, is not classed as manual handling. A load is an object that can be moved but doesn’t have any mechanical means of movement.
What could define an injury?
Within the scope of the MHO, an injury could be to any part of the body caused by attempting to move the load.
Most people when they think of a manual handling injury think of a lower back muscular type injury caused by the sheer weight or size of the load. However, injuries could just as easily be caused by the awkward shape of the load affecting grip, or by slipperiness of the packaging, sharp edges, or uneven weight distribution.
A manual handling injury is not defined by other injuries sustained from leaking packages or substances on the surface of the load, which might be harmful or corrosive.
What are the duties of the employer?
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, it is a requirement for employers to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all manual handling activities to assess the risk and where necessary carry out measures that either eliminate the risk of injury or reduce it to its lowest possible level of risk, (so far as is reasonably practical).
Where the risk cannot be eliminated or reduced sufficiently, employers must take steps to ensure that information such as precise weights of the load are clearly indicated on the package, and the heaviest side of the load is clearly indicated where it is out of balance with the centre of gravity.
The assessment must also be reviewed if there are significant changes to the MHO, or it is no longer relevant.
Further, the employer must also take factors into account such as the build and physical capabilities of the person carrying out the MHO, the clothing or items being worn, and any training or knowledge held by the operative.
A full breakdown of the duties can be found in the HSE brief guide, Downloadable Free HERE
Does the employee have a role to play?
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (regulation 5), the employee has a responsibility to act and conduct his work in a manner that doesn’t cause injury or ill health to himself, his co-workers or others who might be affected by his acts or omissions.
Further, he has a duty to cooperate with his employer over matters of health and safety and assist the employer in discharging his duties towards the health and safety of all concerned.
This includes making proper use of any system of work provided for the purpose of safe manual handling.
The HSE Manual Handling Assessment Chart (ing383), plus other useful information on manual handling best practice and tools can be downloaded free of charge directly from the HSE HERE
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