In short the answer to your question “Is manual handling training a legal requirement” is yes. Regulation 4(3)(C) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. Guidance on Regulations L23 discusses the requirements of an employer in relation to knowledge and training.
I’m sure you may have been on a manual handling training course with an instructor showing you how to lift a box in an office. The problem with this approach is that manual handling is normally more complex with multiple variables to consider as set out within Schedule 1 Regulation 4(1)(b)(I) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.
What should your manual handling training include?
Ensure your manual handling training provider covers the key areas below that are set out within the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.
-manual handling risk factors and how injuries can occur;
-how to carry out safe manual handling, including good handling technique;
-appropriate systems of work for the individual’s task and environment;
-safe use of lifting and handling aids;
-practical work to allow the trainer to identify and put right anything the trainee
is not doing safely.
Manual handling training can be seen as an unnecessary burden on employers. Of course, this view is understood if the manual handling training provided does not cover the tasks that employers are required to complete in detail.
Correspondingly, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations state clearly that “courses should be suitable for the individual, tasks and environment involved, use relevant examples, relate to what workers actually do and last long enough to cover all the relevant information”.
The ergonomics approach
A key part of meeting the Manual Handling Regulations is to apply the ergonomics approach which considers further variables listed below:
- The task considers multiple factors including but not limited to;
-holding or manipulating loads at distance from
– unsatisfactory bodily movement or posture,
– twisting the trunk?
– reaching upwards?
- The loads consider multiple factors including but not limited to;
– bulky or unwieldy?
– difficult to grasp?
- The working environment considers multiple factors including but not limited to;
– space constraints preventing good posture?
– uneven, slippery or unstable floors?
– variations in level of floors or work surfaces?
– extremes of temperature or humidity?
– conditions causing ventilation problems or
gusts of wind?
– poor lighting conditions?
- Individual capability considers multiple factors including but not limited to;
Does the job:
– require unusual strength, height etc?
– create a hazard to those who might reasonably be
considered to be pregnant or to have a health
– require special information or training for its safe
- Other factors
Is movement or posture hindered by personal
protective equipment or by clothing?
Manual handling training is not enough on its own
At the early stages of design, you should look to design out where reasonably practicable manual handling risk.
Applying ergonomics design principles such as anthropometrics (accounting for individual differences), observation, and interviews with the workforce will aid you in reducing the manual handling risk.
Manual handling training is a legal requirement and forms part of a broader approach to reduce the risk of work-related injury when completing manual handling tasks.
Involve your workforce to get an understanding of the tasks from their perspective. The workforce normally knows the good parts, bad parts, and workarounds to complete the task safely.
Need help with your work-related upper limb disorder assessments and ergonomics improvement process? Contact Morgan Maxwell today to speak with a Chartered Ergonomist. We can support you with industrial ergonomics assessments & surveys and ergonomics training in the use of a range of ergonomics tools.
If you’re unsure whether you need a Chartered Ergonomist’s expertise, see our blog post first: What is a Chartered Ergonomist?, and drop us a line with any questions.