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Safer manual handling

22 March 2022

MANUAL HANDLING is often overlooked in training, despite it being one of the main contributors to MSD (musculoskeletal disorders) and cause of lost working days in the supply chain each year,

Also, organisations often select ‘off the shelf’ manual handling courses, which do not focus on the specific risks that employees in warehousing and transport operations encounter. 

A change to manual handling training is needed to help improve operational safety and employee wellbeing. Here are tips could help reduce manual handling incidents.

Conduct risk assessments: Manual handling in transport, warehousing, and logistics operations can pose various risks, so identifying and avoiding those is vital. Injuries could include back pain when loading a pallet, crush injuries from falling loads during picking operations, or incidents could involve equipment such as pallet trucks or roll cages. 

One way to remember what to assess is to consider the four areas within the TILE technique: Task, Individual capability, Load, Environment.

Prioritise posture: Posture is crucial in lifting and other body movements involved in manual handling. Employees should understand and think about what shape a healthy spine should be in when its owner is standing still. Employers should support their teams in making efforts to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back to adopt good posture.

Load weight can be deceptive: Just because a load is light, that doesn't mean a manual handling task is unlikely to cause injury. This is especially true if the movement is repeated, and good technique isn't used. 

Adopt FLUENCY in lifting: Many manual handling tasks in warehousing and transport businesses involve lifting, so technique for safe lifting is essential. This can be easily remembered by thinking of FLUENCY, which stands for: Feet, Load, Unlock, Even, Natural, Control, Your back. 

Push and pull correctly: Pushing and pulling tasks are often poorly assessed because they are seen as a safe alternative to lifting, but they still require the correct manual handling techniques to be used. Remember - pushing and pulling covers an extensive range of equipment, from roll cages to wheelbarrows, so the technique will vary, and assessment is required for every piece of equipment.

Training: Employers and managers have a responsibility to manage the risk in their workplace, which can come from the task, the workplace environment, or the employees themselves. This means that manual handling training is a requirement for keeping employees safe and ensuring compliance in the event of an incident. It is also vital to help employees avoid developing MSDs and avoid worsening existing cases. 

To make educating your staff and reducing the risk of injury simpler and more affordable the RTITB Manual Handling in Transport, Warehousing, and Logistics eLearning course is available now. The course is industry specific, so learners can easily apply manual handling to their actual day to day roles and responsibilities.

What’s more, the RTITB eLearning approach enables candidates to study at their own pace. eLearning can fit comfortably around shifts, reducing the amount of operational time that is lost to training.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3sSYzbs